David Cameron refused to rule out the possibility of the introduction of local fuel taxes as part of the local government finance review that is due to be published shortly.
Asked during prime minister’s questions if he agreed with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s call for the introduction of more local taxes and specifically a local fuel tax through the local government resource review - a story first revealed in LGC - Mr Cameron avoided answering the question directly. But he did not rule out the possibility.
As revealed in LGC, Mr Clegg wrote to Mr Cameron last month calling for the local government resource review to be expansive in scope with consideration given to a basket of local taxes alongside the relocalisation of business rates and greater borrowing freedoms. However, the call for a wide-rnaign review is being resisted by communities secretary Eric Pickles
Mr Cameron said: “Let me put it this way, what we both want to is well resourced local councils that have greater powers, greater devolution and less top-down bureaucracy, than we had under the party opposite.”
Mr Cameron was also challenged over councils’ cuts to voluntary and community organisations, which Bob Russell MP (Lib Dem), said were “undermining” the Big Society.
Mr Cameron said: “I would urge local authorities to look first at their own costs. It’s only when they can show they are sharing chief executives, they’re cutting out their own bureaucracy, that they can then show they need to make reductions elsewhere. In some cases they’re not yet being convincing.”
The prime minister was also asked if he would consider the reintroducing the previous Labour government’s Future Jobs Fund scheme, which was aimed at tackling youth unemployment but axed by the coalition government. But Mr Cameron, who agreed that youth unemployment was a “scourge”, said the FJF was “not a good scheme”.
He said: “We don’t believe the Future Jobs Fund is the answer because it was five times more expensive than other schemes and in some places like Birmingham only 3% of the jobs were in the private sector.”