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Now is the time to make the case for fundamental reform

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While it may seem far off, the autumn spending review will give local government a fighting chance of persuading ministers of the financial crisis they face.

Unlike this month’s emergency budget, councils will have time to craft their requests for reforms.

And with an administration in place for five years, they can afford to be bold.

It’s a good time to press for the more fundamental reforms in this, the first of five years of a new government.

And from the soundings taken from council leaders over these pages, radical reform will be crucial for the survival of local governments everywhere.

Mounting pressures on social care budgets, increased reliance on business rates, and the perpetual request for a refresh of council tax are hitting authorities’ ability to provide services.

The offer of devolved powers, however welcome, are unlikely to go far enough to fill the hole in council finances left by years of funding reductions.

And the business rates regime is, frankly, a mess: an unreliable source of resource.

Authorities must however be their persuasive best when pressing ministers to accept the need for major changes to their finance regime.

While time is on their side, they will have to think carefully about how the chancellor might be swayed to their way of thinking.

The Local Government Association submission, dispatched to the Treasury this week, is be a good start.

It must now be pressed and articulated as strongly as possible.

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