Saturday, 6 October 2012

Local Government to continue to be starved of funds.

It seems the crisis in Welsh local authorities could stretch until the next decade, 

A study carried out for the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that money available to councils could be tight until at least 2020-21 – with some estimates showing spending power per person falling by as much as 18%.

The WLGA said the report revealed the “very challenging” future faced for public services in Wales in the face of spending cuts and welfare reform proposed by the UK Government.

The fact is both Conservative and Labour Councils,  have emasculated local government simply by preventing them from raising the money they need .

With Libraries, Swimming Pools and other amenities closing as Councils are forced to cut expenditure . Is a far cry from the pioneering councils who built such amenities in the first place.

Like  Joseph Chamberlain tenure as Mayor of Labour who also forced through improvements of the City Slums as Wikipedia states 

In July 1875 Chamberlain tabled an improvement plan involving slum clearance in Birmingham's city centre. Chamberlain had been consulted by the Home Secretary, Richard Assheton Cross during the preparation of the Artisan's and Labourers' Dwellings Improvement Act 1875, during Disraeli's social improvement programme. Chamberlain bought 50 acres (200,000 m²) of property to build a new road, (Corporation Street), through Birmingham's overcrowded slums. Overriding the protests of local landlords and the Commissioner of the Local Government Board's inquiry into the scheme, Chamberlain gained the endorsement of the President of the Local Government Board, George Sclater-Booth. Chamberlain raised the funds for the programme, contributing £10,000 himself. However, the Improvement Committee concluded that it would be too expensive to transfer slum-dwellers to municipally-built accommodation and so the land was leased as a business proposition on a 75 year lease. Slum dwellers were eventually rehoused in the suburbs and the scheme cost local government £300,000. The death-rate in Corporation Street decreased dramatically – from approximately 53 per 1,000 between 1873 and 1875 to 21 per 1,000 between 1879 and 1881.

During Chamberlain's tenure of office public and private money was used to construct libraries, municipal swimming pools and schools. The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery was enlarged and a number of new parks were opened. Construction of the Council House was begun while the Victoria Law Courts were built on Corporation Street.
Our councils are pale imitations of these corporations.  Your local council  even if they had a vision to improve their authority would find themselves prevented from doing so by a rate cap 

Indeed our own Assembly is so limited in its capacity to spend and to announce  it although  would use its £15bn budget to help the economy when it revealed its spending plans for next can't raise its own Money . They are basically just spending their pocket money at the School tuck shop rather than seeking to raise the money to open their own

Limited to spending what they have on essential services with little left over to improve the lives of the people.. Government outside Westminster will continue to shuffle on . Becoming increasingly unpopular and irrelevant

And with David Cameron  Big Society idea there will be even less democratic control which Labour will do nothing to reverse . Because both parties mindful of examples such as Ken Livingston, s GLC and indeed David Blunkett,s  People's Republic of South Yorkshire will make sure that no Local Government leader will ever have such powers again.

The future looks bleak and unless theirs a sea change in Local authority finding including replacing the Council  Tax with a local income tax together with an end to capping we will continue have arguments not about how to improve our local society but merely how to prioritise our current resources. 

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