Local Authority Leaders' concerns about the Localism BIll
Local Authority Leaders, through LGYH, have given their cross-Party support to the campaign by the Local Government Association voicing concerns about the ‘Localism Bill’ currently going through Parliament.
Leaders have also welcomed the findings of the influential Parliamentary Select Committee, chaired by Sheffield MP Clive Betts, which has stated that the Government’s localism agenda as a whole is incoherent and lacks any clarity in terms of the vital role of local government.
Cllr Roger Stone, Chair of LGYH and Leader of Rotherham Council said: “Local Authorities are the most accountable part of government and are completely responsive to the needs of communities and local people. Local Authorities across Yorkshire and Humber are already doing the things that the Localism Bill aims to achieve – for example, involving people in the way we deliver our services, and handing over the ownership of council buildings, parks, libraries and other vital neighbourhood facilities to be run more effectively by local communities.
Council leaders in Yorkshire and Humber have already concluded that the Bill’s simply not needed and we’re concerned that, when this new legislation is forced through by the Government, we’ll have to use our valuable and limited resources to administer and report on what we’re already doing, rather than get the job done.”
Research by the LGA has shown that in order to meet the extra costs of the bureaucracy contained within the Localism Bill, each Local Authority may need to spend around £250,000 per year – this could equate to around £5.5 million across Yorkshire and Humber. Local Authority Leaders across Yorkshire and Humber believe that this money would be much better spent in delivering the services that people need and value. The LGA estimate, for example, that £250,000 would pay for 16 local care workers. With millions of pounds being cut from Local Authorities budgets, affecting their ability to deliver effective and valuable resources, Leaders are concerned that the waste and bureaucracy being built into the Localism Bill and other piece of legislation could have serious implication for local communities.
Cllr Peter Box, Vice Chair of LGYH and Leader of Wakefield Council added: “Local Authorities across our region are already working closely with local communities and do not need dictats from central Government telling us the best way to deliver services and support local people. We should be answerable to our communities, not to people based miles away in Whitehall with no grasp of what’s really needed in our local areas. We agree with the LGA that much of what the Government is claiming to be ‘localism’ is actually the direct opposite – with Ministers in London controlling what communities can or can’t do.
Across Yorkshire and Humber local authorities have a proven track record of working together for the benefit of local communities. We ask that we are left alone to continue to do this in the way that suits our local people best - not the way that Central Government thinks we should. The Localism Bill could cost us collectively £5.5 million to administer across the region, roughly the cost of employing 350 more care workers. This is money we believe will be better spent delivering valuable services to our local people.”
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