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TOP-TIER FREEDOMS

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Almost every top-tier council will gain some freedoms and flexibilities if government proposals get the go-ahead....
Almost every top-tier council will gain some freedoms and flexibilities if government proposals get the go-ahead.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has launched a consultation on how these concessions should be tied to the star ratings now used for comprehensive performance assessments. Their status was left unclear when the Audit Commission changed to stars from the previous descriptive ratings (LGC, 20 October).

Freedoms include exemptions from producing certain plans, removal of rules that govern some grants spending and trading powers for councils with an acceptable business case.

The ODPM's preferred way forward is to give all councils with three or four star ratings the same freedoms that 'excellent' councils gained.

Councils with two stars will also get the benefits previously enjoyed by 'good' councils, and one-star councils will gain trading powers. Zero star councils - North East Lincolnshire alone - will get nothing.

A Local Government Association spokeswoman said: 'We would be most likely to support the ODPM preferred option, as it will have the effect of extending freedoms to a wider group.'

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