Local government in a unitary system - TECH BLOG

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Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Local government in a unitary system

What does the local government look like in unitary system like the UK's?

As Austerity Helps Bankrupt an English County, Even Conservatives Mutiny
Britain is already in upheaval over Brexit, its looming withdrawal from the European Union, with many experts warning of economic hardship ahead. But Northamptonshire is foreshadowing another potential fiscal crisis: Local governments drained of resources, cutting services to the bone.
Northamptonshire

Councils are Britain’s fundamental unit of local government, dealing with an array of basic needs: trash collection, public transport, libraries, town planning, and care for children and other vulnerable people, among other things. They levy a tax on homes and charge fees for some services. They also collect a nationally set tax on commercial real estate, and keep an increasing share of it. But for years they received most of their funding from the central government.

The crisis in Northamptonshire is complicated and partly self-inflicted. But it has roots in the austerity policies and cost cutting that the Conservative-led national government imposed a decade ago in response to the global financial crisis…

Now some Conservatives, especially at the local level, are openly defying what has been a pillar of the party’s ideology.

Funding from London for local governments has fallen 60 percent since 2010, with reductions expected to total $21 billion by 2020…

The crisis is a political embarrassment for Conservatives, who are already divided into warring camps over Brexit. The former leader of the Northamptonshire council, Heather Smith, has resigned from her position, and from the Conservative Party. Investigators sent from London blamed her and other councilors for mishandling local finances, even as she blamed London for impossible mandates and a refusal to consider higher taxes.

Sounding increasingly like their Labour opponents, some Conservative councilors in Northamptonshire are now talking about stopping the outsourcing of public services and demanding tax increases…

This year, the government announced some new money for councils, including about $200 million for adult social services. Even so, some experts say that councils are still staring at a $4 billion funding hole.

In response, according to an annual government survey of council leaders, an overwhelming majority of county councils across England plan to raise council tax, their levy on homes, 5.99 percent this year — the maximum the central government will allow…

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