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LGA weighs reform options

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The Local Government Association is considering taking political control of the improvement and efficiency agenda through reform of the ‘local government family’.

LGA chief executive Paul Coen is leading a review of the way the association’s interaction with the central bodies such as the Improvement & Development Agency and Local Government Employers (LGE).

A document discussed at a ‘lively’ meeting of the association’s improvement board this week flags up the possibility of councils paying a ‘self tax’ to a reformed LGA with direct control of the central bodies.

But the document has caused disquiet among central bodies. David Parsons (Con), vice-chairman of the IDeA, described the idea as “unworkable from a financial and partnerships point of view”.

Geoffrey Theobald (Con), chairman of the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services, said: “We feel LACORS’ strong brand could be lost if we are brought in-house.”

he document outlines “scenarios” ranging from the retention of the status quo through to a brand new model with all the bodies coming together as an integrated company, funded by a single levy where all councils would pay a fixed proportion of their budgets.

Under current arrangements, the LGA is funded by membership subscriptions but its associated central bodies IDeA, LGE, LACORS and procurement specialists 4ps are funded through a ‘top slice’ of central government grant.

The Leadership Centre for Local Government, which works in many of the same areas as the IDeA, is about to be brought into the LGA.

The Department for Communities & Local Government has final say on how top-slice funding is spent. The LGA report says abandoning the top-slice mechanism could allow local government to operate “as an equal rather than subordinate partner”.

“There are no proposals at the moment, no options,” said Chris Lawrence-Pietroni, LGA director for corporate strategy and public affairs. “This is an attempt to have a conversation with the sector.”

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