Magazine article Public Finance


Magazine article Public Finance


Article excerpt

Easy answer for local services

It has been intriguing, if not entertaining, to follow the speculation about local government reform in PF, but it is unclear who advocates change and for what reason.

England is a small country. Its nature is diverse, yet its needs are consistent: clean water supply and foul water disposal; utilities; health and social care; education; waste disposal; environmental services; transport and communication; planning; and recreation.

All of these are capable of central provision. Some are already provided by private enterprise. Indeed, broad-view strategies are necessary for some aspects of all. 'Postcode provision' is condemned yet, as Professors Jones and Stewart point out in their feature, 'seeds of change1 (May 12-18), 'community' is important.

Perhaps the future local provision of nationally defined services should be through a series of appropriate agencies - covering not necessarily contiguous regions, each one monitored by locally elected voluntary boards.

Such an approach should result in uniform provision and could be funded from hypothecated taxes raised as supplements to national progressive taxes. Furthermore, local provision of nationally defined and financed services would offer clear accountability, single-tier bodies and scope for reduction in costs.

Regarding the Lyons inquiry, what central government is going to sanction forms of local taxation that could run contrary to the aims of national economic management and to its interests?

Of course, single-tier government providing services through local agency offices reguires policy to be decided by ministers (not delegated to quangos), provision from centrally secured budgets, and ministerial responsibility for service failures.



Ripping up my pension rights

Currently, members of the local government pension scheme can retire when their age and service combined add up to more than 85.

The Local Government Pension Scheme wrote to me recently to tell me I was being discriminated against by this rule - but I didn't have to worry because they were going to stop it.

Currently, there was an outside chance I could retire on a full pension at 54, but to stop me being discriminated against they were moving my retirement age to 65.

The LGPS argument was based on an example of two people starting work on the same date but one of them getting a better pension deal because they were older.

The propaganda, paid for from the fund, went on to say that the scheme probably discriminates against women because they are generally later starters.

It is bad enough that the LGPS is screwing over everyone who was born after 1953 with its proposals. …

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