The handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the ‘dysfunctional relationship’ between central and local government, a report has argued today.
The Tony Blair Institute (TBI) is calling for fundamental reform to the way local government is financed.
The report, Fixing the Plumbing: Resetting the Framework of Local Government Funding, argues local government should be fully funded by central Government. It should also be allowed to raise revenue from its tax base and decide how that money should be spent.
Lizzie Insall, report author and policy lead for community at TBI, said: ‘The response to COVID-19 exemplifies the failure of an overcentralised state - confusion over PPE, Test and Trace, local lockdowns. This approach, centralised by default, is the baked in reality for how local government operates.
It doesn’t just need to be better resourced; the financial plumbing needs fixing so that it is both properly funded as a service provider and so local leaders are truly empowered.’
The inevitable result of the funding framework for councils is a disempowered local government, underserved citizens and wasted public money, Ms Insall told The MJ.