Local decision making is a more efficient way of producing better outcomes. However, the questions of who takes decisions and who they answer to still remain. It is often unclear who is ultimately responsible for what when it comes to providing local public services and funding them.
Many other countries' constitutions explicitly link parliament and local government with a written statement, including France, Italy, Germany and Spain. The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee (PCRSC) has raised the question of formal acknowledgement of such a relationship in England. This could possibly be through a code allowing local authorities the freedom to independently respond to the needs and wants of their local communities, rather than acting on central government prescriptions.
The Local Government Association (LGA) launched a campaign in February 2012 to encourage debate about the viability of such a code. Through listening events, submissions, and debates we have heard that members want us to pursue the issue of codification. We have heard that we should focus on:
1. Full retention by local government of council tax and business rates.
2. Entrenching local accountability.
3. Removing central government's and Parliament's power to decide councils' boundaries, structures and governance models.
4. Making it a default position that local government should have the power to provide any local public service not explicitly reserved to another body.
5. Entrenching those elements of local government's legal position in a way that made it harder for future Parliaments to re-regulate local government.
We will also look to highlight the important role councils play in local growth and economic development.
The LGA will work with members to refine our position ahead of our formal submission to the Select Committee in October 2012.
The PCRSC is consulting on 'The prospects for codifying the relationship between central and local government: next steps' as part of its exploration of the issues around codifying the relationship between central and local government.
It is in the process of collecting and considering evidence. The LGA is working with Graham Allen MP, Chair of the PCRSC, to bring together different sectors of local government to take part in the debate. This includes the possibility of a draft code aimed at entrenching independent local government, to feed into the PCRSC consultation. More information about the inquiry and a copy of the draft code can be seen on the Parliament website:
Prospects for codifying the relationship between central and local government – Parliament UK website
Independent local government: next steps (June 2012)
The Local Government Association (LGA) is campaigning for greater clarity for people about the relationship between central and local government and over the last few months, we have been consulting with our members on the issue of codifying the relationship between central and local government.
Since the beginning of the year, the LGA has been speaking to its members through regional events, discussion groups, online communication, and a variety of other means to ask our members what they want to happen. These conversations have informed the LGA's position on codifiying the relationship between central and local government. This paper also provides a summary of the responses we received and discussions we have had, recommendations, and next steps for taking forward this important issue.
In February, the LGA and Graham Allen MP launched a public discussion looking into the merits of constitutional reform to make the roles of Whitehall and councils clearer to local residents.
The Independent Local Government Knowledge Hub Group has the most up-to-date information on the campaign and links to media coverage, events, and other publications. Registration is free and open to all.
You can also email the campaign team on email@example.com
23 April 2013