Lib Dems believe in power at a local level to the people

I was watching Michael Portillo’s Power to the People , which was on over the weekend and he was advocating giving more power to local people and also for increased accountability. Not sure if Michael’s become a Liberal Democrat but that’s what we’ve been saying for years. I almost fell off my sofa when he even advocated “a local sales or income tax” to replace the council tax (Portillo was famously the Minister in charge of implementing the Poll tax).

Lib Dem measures to empower local people would be:

  • Local authorities to have the ability to set their own local income tax (in place of council tax) and keep the revenue.
  • Local authorities to set their own business rates, not have it set nationally, and also to keep the revenue. 
  • Locally elected health boards and police authorities so these services deliver what you need.
  • Allow local people to have a say in planning decisions and have the right of appeal.
  • Protect local shops and pubs, by cutting the business rate if they are the last one in the village.
  • Ability to sack your MP if they have done something wrong. Power should be in the hands of voters at all times, not just on Election Day.

2 thoughts on “Lib Dems believe in power at a local level to the people

  1. I work in the IT industry and not a week goes by when a local authority doesn’t try and procure an IT system almost exactly the same as one procured the week before by another authority. I believe in more local control but a lot of it is leading to inefficiencies that cost this country billions. I’d rather see central government setting the template with some room for local tweaks – the same applies for their software (develop it once and customise it).

    How will the country be efficient if we have different rates of tax for every town and even individual businesses?

    How do poor towns with low ‘local income tax’ dig themselves out of the hole?


    • Matthew,

      You are right on the purchasing of services and products by councils and they should work together to capitalize on their economies of scale. This is something the Liberal Democrats are suggesting on areas like Defence procurement with European partners.
      Our suggestion for more local control is mainly around decision making in terms of local business rates (exactly the same in London Oxford Street as Bromsgrove High Street) or decision making for local health service.

      Specific to your question about regional variation in tax, we believe that different areas have different needs, and this cannot be set top down in London for the whole country.

      Currently the majority of funding for local authorities is mainly from Central Government anyway. This will not change significantly and any changes will review the impact of having an older population in an area. The current council tax system is patently unfair penalising those on low incomes and adding to the problem of the poverty trap.

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