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Marcus Jones: Absence of legislation will not mean an absence of progress

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Local government is on the brink of an exciting opportunity

Throughout its history local government has been a strong defender of the public purse.

Representing nearly a quarter of all public expenditure, the great work done by councillors, officials and other employees is commendable.

It’s not just the work of senior figures. I’m talking about the people out there on the front line delivering the services we all rely on.

Over the past few years we’ve asked a lot of local government.

And now, the sector is on the brink of an exciting opportunity.

We all must be realistic about the legislative time available at this unique moment in British politics

The government is transforming the relationship between Whitehall and town halls – putting local government at the heart of delivering strong economic growth for their local communities.

In February of this year, we confirmed our commitment to the four-year funding settlement for councils, giving local leaders the certainty they need to plan ahead with confidence. We also remain committed to giving the sector and local authorities greater control of their resources.

I understand that many people were disappointed that the Local Government Finance Bill did not appear in the Queen’s Speech.

I want to be absolutely clear. The government remains 100% committed to our manifesto pledge to give local government greater control over the money it raises locally.

However, we all must be realistic about the legislative time available at this unique moment in British politics. This creates an opportunity for us to pause and think creatively and collaboratively.

An absence of immediate framework legislation will not mean an absence of progress.

We have worked closely with the sector throughout the development of this policy and will continue to do so. These are complex issues and it is important that we take the time to get it right and do not pre-judge where open and honest dialogue will lead us.

In the short term we must ensure that the system operates as effectively as possible.

We need a local government finance system that is fair and responsive to changes in local areas.

In any system there will be the need to redistribute resources between authorities. It should also ensure that authorities benefit from their efforts to grow their local economies and tax bases.

The government remains committed to the Fair Funding Review.

It has been almost 10 years since the current formula was reviewed and many people feel it is out of sync with rapidly shifting factors that determine costs in providing services.

We share a determination to press on in close collaboration with the sector, including on timing and approach. We will work together to reach a consensus and to define what fair funding looks like in the future.

The open and collaborative relationship that local and central government share is a very special one – long may it continue.

Marcus Jones, Local Government Minister

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