Magazine article Public Finance

LGA Calls for 'Power of General Competence'

Magazine article Public Finance

LGA Calls for 'Power of General Competence'

Article excerpt

Local government leaders have urged ministers to give councils a new 'power of general competence' as a pioneering mutual insurance scheme went into provisional liquidation this week.

The demand comes in the Local Government Association's response to a government consultation that was set to close on October 2. It argued that a court ruling against London Authorities Mutual Ltd had exposed the limits of councils' existing 'wellbeing' powers.

But ministers appeared to have ruled out this power in their own response to the Commons communities and local government select committee, which was slipped out quietly during the parliamentary recess - while the consultation was still live.

In June, the court of appeal ruled that councils' participation in Lami was beyond their statutory powers.

That judgment could yet be contested, with the London Borough of Harrow seeking support and finance from other authorities to mount a Supreme Court challenge.

But the debate over changes to the legal framework is also set to escalate, with Conservative leader David Cameron pledging a general competence power if his party wins the general election.

In its consultation response, the LGA backed specific legislation to enable councils to set up mutual insurance schemes. …

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