Hitting the ground running, continued

Here are just some of the things the new coalition government has done in its' first 100 days for local government alone:

Local taxation

• Scrapped Labour’s plans for new bin taxes on family homes, which would have harmed the local environment by fuelling fly-tipping and backyard burning.

• Announced we will work with local councils to freeze council tax for at least one year, and two, if money permits; and give people the power to veto high council tax rises.

• Introduced a more generous small business rate relief scheme, to help firms come out of recession, for one year starting in October. Firms with a Rateable Value under £6,000 will pay no business rates at all for a year.

• Scrapped Labour’s ports tax – unfair retrospective business rates on firms in ports which threatened to decimate those firms and damage Britain’s whole manufacturing sector.

Housing & planning

• Scrapped John Prescott’s flawed Regional Strategies and the role of his unwanted and unelected Regional Assemblies.

• Introduced new powers for councils to resist unwanted garden grabbing and scrapped arbitrary Whitehall density targets for new housing.

• Abolished the expensive red tape of Labour’s Home Information Packs (HIPs have already been suspended, pending full abolition by primary legislation).

• Encouraged councils to use their enforcement powers to tackle unauthorised traveller sites, and promised to give them stronger powers to ensure fair play in the planning system.

• Pledged new financial incentives for councils to build more homes and support economic growth.

• Overhauled the flawed system of counting the numbers of rough sleepers, so councils and charities know the true scale of homelessness and can target their expert help and advice where it is needed most.

• Announced the abolition of the unelected Infrastructure Planning Commission – whilst ensuring a fast-track planning system for major projects with full Parliamentary accountability.

Local democracy

• Abolished Labour’s unnecessary Comprehensive Area Assessment inspection regime.

• Stopped Labour’s imposition of expensive new unitary councils in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk.

• Vetoed a proposed excessive salary package of £240,000 for a new chief executive of the Audit Commission, to send a strong signal to town halls that they don’t need to spend a fortune on senior salaries.

• Worked with councils to deliver a new era of town hall transparency, with town halls to publish their spending and contracts over £500 online by the end of the year.

• Pledged to give councils stronger powers on licensing to tackle the alcohol-fuelled violence that plagues local high streets at night.

• Announced plans to give councils a lead role in public health, make our health service more answerable to patients and ensure more joint working with the NHS and social care.

Funding for frontline services

• Reduced the ring-fencing of local authority budgets by £1.2 billion – as the first stage in phasing out such ring-fencing; this gives councils power and discretion to focus their resources on frontline services.

• Delivered £6 billion of savings this year to help tackle the budget deficit, but protecting the £29 billion of funding for Formula Grant – the funding of councils used for frontline services, and ensured that no council had a reduction in revenue of more than 2 per cent.

• Secured and authorised £1.25 billion of the last Government’s £1.5 billion housing pledge, despite the lack of sustainable funding and the massive budget deficit we inherited. Tackling the deficit will help prevent soaring interest rates for home owners.

Regional government

• Taken steps to replace distant and unaccountable Regional Development Agencies with new local enterprise partnerships of local firms and councils working together.

• Stated we are minded to close all the unelected Government Offices for the Regions – they are agents of Whitehall which interfere with local councils.

Big Society

• Moved to cut the red tape, paperwork and form filling that hinder local people from organising street parties, fetes and local community events.

• Encouraged councils and residents to fly the English flag and have pride in our nation, rather than letting political correctness or ‘health and safety’ zealots get in the way.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, commented that

"There’s more to come, but we have a great message on how we are championing the interests of local taxpayers in difficult times, and are putting more power and responsibility into the hands of councils, communities and citizens."


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