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CALL FOR A 'BUDGET FOR LOCAL DEMOCRACY'

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Local democracy think tank the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) ...
Local democracy think tank the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU)

has called for a 'Budget for Local Democracy' from the chancellor today.

The LGIU believes that there are a number of measures that could be put

forward in the Budget to lay the foundations for a renewal of local

democracy in Britain and has called for the chancellor to announce:

* A review of the current classification of all local

authority borrowing as 'public borrowing', with a view to it being easier

for councils to, for example, raise capital for social housing regeneration

and provide more choice for tenants in meeting the government's target for

decent homes by 2010;

* Treasury support for changes in the balance between central

and local funding of councils, that are recommended as a result of the

current review of this aspect of local government finance;

* That the government will match the funding of all

participating local authorities in a local government recruitment campaign,

similar to the government's campaign on teacher recruitment;

* Government legislation to create a level playing field

between council borrowing and the private finance initiative;

* As part of the government's 'National Grid for Learning',

Treasury backing for the establishment of a new dedicated resource to fund

training and skills-building for councillors, enabling them to gain relevant

accredited qualifications;

* Treasury support for a public service bill to give financial

recompense to employers in a new right to statutory paid leave for council

duties.

LGIU chief executive Dennis Reed said: 'The Budget provides a platform for

the government to signal its intent on the future of local government in a

budget for local democracy

'Although the LGIU would not want the chancellor to pre-empt some of the

very important government reviews currently in train on issues such as

council tax reform, there are still steps that can b e taken on April 9 to

indicate Treasury support for reinvigorating democracy at its grassroots and

boosting local services. We hope that the opportunity is not wasted.'

The LGIU's suggestions are drawn from the results of its Commission on Local

Governance, which reported last year. The LGIU is currently working on a

more detailed set of proposals for a public service bill.

Note

The Commission on Local Governance was an independent body

set up in December 2001 to review the local government White Paper, Strong

Local Leadership - Quality Public Services, and identify further action

needed for local governance to thrive. It consisted of 14 commissioners,

including senior councillors from the three main political parties, a

representative of local authority chief executives, academics, and

representatives from business, trade unions and the voluntary and community

sectors. It produced its report, Free to Differ - The Future for Local

Democracy, in June 2002.

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