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NLGN's guide to beating a downturn

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New Local Government Network director Chris Leslie has set out a nine point plan for how councils can beat the downturn.

In a speech at the LGC Finance Summit, Mr Leslie challenged local authorities to be bold and not wait for initiatives from central Government before taking action.

He said: “Waiting for Whitehall ‘guidance’ is a luxury many communities can’t afford: decisive leadership and bold steps are needed now.”

His suggestions include:

-- Authorities should step in to support public infrastructure projects where PFI funding is threatened
-- Mutual reserve funds should be set up by regional Local Government Associations to protect investments following the Icesave collapse
-- Authorities should look towards further trading potential and bulk buying to save costs
-- Councils should be incentivised to take on further welfare to work schemes
-- Further investment should be made into local social funds and credit unions
-- Councils should offer financial support to local small businesses and offer charities greater financial certainty by giving longer term grants
-- Councils should look closely at how they can reduce the burden of council tax and business rates on their local community
-- Government should allow local authorities the flexibility to offer their own mortgages
-- Local authorities buying out mortgages or offering shared equity where a household is faced with repossession

But Mr Leslie, who was a junior minister in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister before the last election, warned councils that central government may use the economic uncertainty to take greater control over non-ringfenced budgets and delegating budgets.

And he argued the current economic climate made local government finance reform unlikely.

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