Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 800-801)


23 JUNE 2004

  Q800 Chris Mole: The United Kingdom has ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government which requires—at Article 9—that " . . . the financial systems on which resources available to local authorities are based shall be of a sufficiently diversified and buoyant nature to enable them to keep pace as far as practically possible with the real evolution of the cost of carrying out their tasks". The independent Commission on Local Governance, set up by the Local Government Information Unit, has concluded that the UK is in breach with the substance and spirit of the charter. Do you agree with that commission?

  Mr Raynsford: No, I do not. We would not have signed the charter and as a government we did when we came into office; previous government had not. We would not have signed it if we did not believe in it and did not want to apply it. The fact that we are conducting this review at the moment is a pretty clear indication that we are very serious about ensuring that local authorities should have a fair and sustainable basis of funding in the future. It does not mean the present is wholly adequate. I have already indicated that there are criticisms of the current arrangements and we are looking to see what scope there is for improvement. I hope that our report will inform that debate. I do not agree that we are in breach of that charter.

  Q801 Chairman: On that note, may I thank you very much for your evidence. We look forward to reading the report when it comes out.

  Mr Raynsford: May I say that I look forward to yours as well.

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