In the Budget, wealthy businesses in thriving parts of the country were granted a smoother transition to their new higher business rates bill. This easing-in period for successful businesses will be subsidised by a “fair” increase in National Insurance Contributions by 1% to 10% for the self-employed – raising £145m a year by 2021/22.
Budget day for the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) used to be one of intrigue and relative excitement. In the 2000s, the Budget was supplemented by a specific annex focused on economic development and regeneration. Indeed, the Budget was where we saw exciting new renewal initiatives announced; reviews of sub-national economic development formulated; and new duties and funding initiated.
Ahead of the Autumn Statement announcement on Wednesday 23rd November, CLES has published a six-point think piece entitled ‘Devolution: Beyond the rhetoric’.
This short paper challenges the Government narrative on devolution, and explores the extent of the devolved power deficit in comparison to the vast amounts of new risk and responsibility devolved to local government.
Two years ago, CLES wrote a paper as part of Living Wage Week exploring the key role of local government in addressing low pay. The paper, which featured in the Guardian, explored the role of local government in paying the Living Wage themselves, in addressing low pay through their enabling role, and through cajoling suppliers to provide more effective terms and conditions for their workers, including better pay.
Beyond the domain of local government
Since Theresa May took office as prime minister of the UK in July there has been a great deal of speculation about how – if at all – powers over tax rates and local spending will be devolved to local authorities, as promised by the country’s former chancellor George Osborne.
The UK was once proud of local government and its employees. Today, through a combination of disrespect and neglect, we are dangerously blasé. Today, a dark cloud hangs over them despite their great efforts in very hard times. Talented people have left, and, as services reduce, capacity is being hollowed out.
More devolution of powers and budgets from Whitehall offers councils the chance to tackle poverty and inequality by ‘doing things differently’.
A think-tank has urged councils to use new devolved powers from Westminster to help tackle poverty and inequality.
How Preston City Council is managing its finances has won praise from Labour’s shadow chancellor. John McDonnell MP said initiatives being run by the city council to drive up local spending and working with the local Chamber of Commerce were a ‘new economics’.