Magazine article Public Finance

Lyons Promises Radical Report on Council Tax

Magazine article Public Finance

Lyons Promises Radical Report on Council Tax

Article excerpt

Sir Michael Lyons this week dismissed suggestions that he might be forced to water down his proposals on the future of the council tax.

But the former chief executive of Birmingham City Council stressed that he intended to ensure the recommendations of his inquiry into future local authority funding were acceptable to both ministers and the public.

Speaking at the Local Government Association's annual conference in Harrogate, Lyons said he did not want to follow in the footsteps of Frank Layfield, whose 1976 report on local government finance was shelved.

'I am out for change,' he said. 'My report will be radical but it will have an eye on what the government can do. There is no point spending time reaching a set of conclusions seen as impractical and unpopular.'

Addressing a packed session on July 6, he singled out new communities and local government minister David Miliband as strongly interested in greater devolution to local authorities, but added that attitudes were different among other ministers.

He urged local authority leaders to help give ministers space to consider radical changes by engaging their communities in a debate about their local services.

He pointed out that most people had no appreciation of what their services cost or what their council tax contributions paid for and were confused about local government structures and decisionmaking processes.

'If we want to bring forward radical taxation options, the ground has to be prepared, the public has to be convinced of the benefits of change and the government has to be given room to manoeuvre,' he said. …

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