Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

More control for town halls urged

Putting more control of frontline services into council hands could save the taxpayer 100 billion pounds, leaders say

Putting more control of frontline services into the hands of local councils could save the taxpayer £100 billion over five years, town hall leaders have said.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said public cash was being wasted on "a plethora of funding streams, accountability regimes, ring-fenced budgets, quangos and funding bodies".

Budgets for work on areas such as regeneration, housing, flood risks, local transport, primary health, policing and employment should be put in councils' direct control instead, it argued.

The resulting savings could mean services being saved from cuts as the Government looks to slash public spending to reduce the UK's record deficit.

Setting out the proposals at the LGA annual conference in Bournemouth, chairman Dame Margaret will say: "The Government has made it clear there are going to be deep cuts in public spending.

"But if we simply cut departments and organisations as they are currently configured, we will do nothing to cut waste and instead hurt the frontline more than we need to.

"Far too many costly agencies spend money running themselves and talking to each other, rather than doing things people want. Far too much time at the frontline is spent accounting to bureaucrats, rather than being accountable to people who actually use services.

"There are huge opportunities to save money and give people a bigger say in the public sector by starting with a clean sheet and giving power to the people who know their areas best.

"That is the way to reform the system and save money rather than to cut services we know people really need.

"Ministers must do everything humanly possible to cut out the bureaucracy, unnecessary administration and complexity that clogs up the system before they even think about cuts to the everyday services our residents depend on."

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