Moving through the gears

Think tank: Localis

Author(s): Various Authors

March 2, 2023

This report from UK think tank Localis looks at where local government finance might be in 2030.

Council finances are in a precarious position. Wound tightly from the time of the astringencies of the 2010 spending review, to the limited protections that saw the sector through the Covid years, the principal cogs of local government finance – property taxes, commercial revenue, fees and charges, capital expenditure and grant funding, are clearly out of synch. Acknowledgement of this fact is beginning to embed itself across the political spectrum. In a speech delivered at Bloomberg on 27th January 2023, chancellor Jeremy Hunt hinted that a corner may be turned on local government finance during this parliament, promising to “move more decisively towards fiscal devolution”. Meanwhile, the Labour party made the ‘New Britain’ report by former prime minister Gordon Brown their flagship piece of 2022, which included recommendations around fiscal devolution and a long-term finance settlement. So, ahead of the March Budget, perhaps the last great set piece fiscal event for the chancellor to try to change the tide of the political times, Localis has asked some of the major players from the local government family, experts and academics, to set out their thoughts, views and hopes for local government finance in the next political cycle. Moving through the gears is an essay collection covering perspectives on what the future could, should and might be for local government finance, featuring contributions from across the local government sector alongside leading practitioners and experts in the field.