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posted 9 Mar 2014, 07:40 by Peter Webb

The Labour Party is quietly planning for government. Apparently it wants "localisation" of local public services. It thinks in terms of  devolving money and power from central government to local authorities who would get five-year budgets to spend as they chose on services. Secretaries of State would have backstop powers to deal with failure. 

But local services are local surely while  the local funding dilemma has been the subject of achingly wasteful and unproductive argument since at least 1976. It is rumoured that they are still no nearer a solution to the unspoken question: how do you get Westminster and Whitehall out of the present system ?

The council tax, grant and business rates funding system is generally agreed now to be quite unsuitable and tax bases outdated to the point where tinkering adjustments are  useless.

What will they do this time about the system flaw behind 19 years of European audit failure and 3 here (we haven’t done proper accounts for 19 years) ?  How would they calculate the cash to be shipped out, or would they leave that to be done locally subject to national resource control ? If the latter what then about audited performance reporting for local electoral satisfaction and consolidation in  national accounts ?

There is a  solution  if only the politicians would  put aside  their ancient shibboleths, economics bias and political science and start thinking governance and industrial ways and means.