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LGA CHAIRMAN URGES LABOUR TO PLEDGE SPENDING BOOST

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Local Government Association chairman Jeremy Beecham has urged Labour to allow extra spending powers for councils f...
Local Government Association chairman Jeremy Beecham has urged Labour to allow extra spending powers for councils for housing, education and building programmes, reports The Guardian (p17).

Speaking at a conference on urban regeneration, he said the interests of millions of people 'at the margins of society' would be best served by allowing local authorities extra freedom to raise money locally to tackle 'deep-seated problems'.

Although councils have lowered their expectations of a Labour government after shadow chancellor Gordon Brown's statement that an incoming Labour government would adher to Tory-set spending limits, they are relying on being handed back the business rate.

At present, councils only raise 20% of their spending through the council tax, the paper reports. Labour has said it will hand business rate collection back to councils and allow a release of funds from capital receipts.

However, Mr Brown has said the capital receipts release must be phased in gradually to keep the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement on track, a point which is often overlooked when the issue is highlighted in the regions, the article says.
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