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Localism Bill – can we afford to give power to the people?

14 December 2010

The Localism Bill was unveiled yesterday on the day that each local authority learnt how much less grant it will receive over the next four years from central government. The big theme of the Localism Bill is a transfer of power from centre to regions. Some powers will travel all the way to the individual.

Local people will be able to take over services with social value, such as care homes and schools. But with no economies of scale, and in such heavily regulated sectors, will well-meaning amateurs be able to run things more efficiently?

The idea of giving hard-pressed working people the ability to veto ‘excessive’ council tax increases may prove a vote winner. But no one likes paying any tax. One of the biggest concerns is whether they will have enough information to understand why the increase is proposed, and the inclination to vote on behalf of their locality, rather than just themselves.

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