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Burden on councils revealed

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Council chiefs have made a last ditch plea for inspection to be slashed following research revealing some 74,000 pages of rules and instructions have been foisted on local government from Westminster in the past decade.

This is the equivalent of nearly 40 pages for every single day that parliament has been sitting.

The research, carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research, also found that between April and August of this year alone councils have had 1,355 pages of new material, the result of 67 new laws directly relating to local government.

The Local Government Association said the “sheer quantity of bureaucracy [was] in danger of burying important measures”.

Its report, Delivering More for Less II, called for:

  • Guidance on statutory duties to be scrapped
  • Existing local government laws to be simplified to allow councils to use the promised General Power of Competence to full effect
  • The government to cut data demands on councils, and only collect stats where they have a proven value to local people

The bill for the various inspectorates, Government Offices and councils’ compliance costs is in the order of £900m a year, and estimates of the overall drain on the public purse have been as high as £2.5bn, the LGA said.

LGA chairman, Baroness Margaret Eaton (Con), left, said:  “An avalanche of paperwork has descended on town halls across the country in the past decade. The sheer quantity of bureaucracy is in danger of burying important measures which are both important and useful.

“There is no justification for the sheer quantity of form-filling, data returns, reviews and micromanagement being foisted on local government. Red tape of this kind wastes valuable time and resources which councils need to spend delivering essential front-line services.”

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