Laura Sharman 21 October 2020

Streamline local government under plans to save £30bn a year, think tank argues

Streamlining local government and selling off high-value council properties could save billions every year, according to a think tank.

A new report from the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has set out how the Government could save at least £30bn a year without affecting frontline services.

The nine proposals include selling high-value council properties as soon as they become vacant, using part of the receipts to pay for a local replacement. The report estimates this would generate £1.5bn a year in savings.

It also argues that pushing local government to streamline its functions and its administrative costs would save £1bn a year. The report urges the Government to publish league tables on administrative costs in local authorities to help reinforce this.

The report argues: 'Too often the egos of local politicians can get in the way of working between council functions. We therefore propose that the Government should encourage greater sharing of functions, and could even facilitate the ‘pooling’ of services or procurement across multiple councils in order to generate savings.

’It should also consider greater monitoring of the non-frontline costs of councils and publishing this data centrally to help push councils towards greater use of shared services and procurement. Doing this can help deliver the savings from full unitarisation without the costs.’

Other proposals in the report include the sale and lease back of public sector land, reducing Government administrative staff and cutting the number of quangos.

Alex Morton, head of policy at the CPS, said: ‘This package of savings is simultaneously radical but realistic – delivering better value for money for voters and allowing the Government to continue funding its priorities. We strongly encourage the chancellor and his team to explore our suggestions ahead of the Spending Review and Budget, and to identify any further savings that can be made.’

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