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A new power to charge for some services gives local government a powerful new tool to promote the well-being of loc...
A new power to charge for some services gives local government a powerful new tool to promote the well-being of local communities, according to a new publication from local democracy think tank the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU).

Clear to Charge explores the new power of local authorities to charge for discretionary services, introduced in the Local Government Act 2003 and now in force. This power extends councils' capacity to expand and improve their services and creates new openings for innovation and partnership working. As well as allowing local authorities to recover the costs of providing certain services, the charging power opens up a range of new possibilities using the power of well-being - another advance for local government from recent legislation.

The publication is intended as an introduction for councillors and officers to the new charging powers. It outlines some of the issues that need to be taken into account when considering charging for discretionary services. It highlights the distinction between trading and charging; and indicates some of the opportunities that the charging power will provide for councils. Using a number of local case studies on how councils are approaching the new power, Clear to Charge also highlights some of the areas in social services, housing, planning, libraries, environmental services and community services where local authorities are considering charging for certain discretionary services.

Hilary Kitchin, LGIU policy officer and author of Clear to Charge, said: 'Clear to Charge is a concise guide for councillors and officers about the scope of the new powers that councils now have.

'Charging is one of the mechanisms through which local authorities can advance of the well-being of their communities and it could be a valuable tool for local innovation. With the very limited powers that councils have to make a difference, we encourage all authorities to make the best use of those powers that are available.'

* Copie s of Clear to Charge are on sale at£10 each (£5 to LGIU affiliates) from Central Books on 0845 458 9910, 0845 458 9912 (fax) or e-mail

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