Magazine article Public Finance

In the Line of Fire

Magazine article Public Finance

In the Line of Fire

Article excerpt

We're all localists now. A political consensus has emerged in which centralism is deemed old hat and devolution is de rigueur.

This might be the making of councils if they seize the day. As Paul Coen told the CIPFA conference in Bournemouth this week, local government has the 'best opportunity for generations' to stake its claim for a stronger role in citizen-centred service delivery.

The Local Government Association's chief executive asserted that the 'future is local'. English councils could and should be at the forefront of plans to offer personalised services.

In Scotland and Wales, there are even greater possibilities. The SNP-led Scottish Executive hopes to replace council tax with a local income tax (see cover feature, pages 20-23), while the Welsh Assembly is considering relocalising elements of the business rate.

Exciting times, indeed. But there's always someone who wants to spoil the party.

Former Capita chair Rod Aldridge brought his own brand of Alan Sugar, tell-it-like-it-is realism to the conference.

According to Aldridge, local government hasn't even reached first base when it comes to implementing radical changes. He was talking about shared services, calling the public sector s record 'pitiful'. …

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