Think tank calls for transfer of powers to local authorities

Reform-scotland-220A think tank has called for a new constitutional relationship between local and central government, governed by legislation which recognises the importance of local government to democracy and the operation of public services.

In Blueprint for Local Power, Reform Scotland proposes the new constitutional relationship is based on three clear principles:

  • Local authorities will be responsible for all areas not specifically reserved to Holyrood – this is the same principle which governs the relationship between Westminster and Holyrood
  • Tasks should be carried out at the lowest level practical – the principle of subsidiarity, which would replace uniformity and drive forward on-the-ground innovation
  • Local authorities would provide clear and transparent information on their activities to ensure proper local accountability.
  • Reform Scotland also calls for councils to be given the responsibilities of quangos wherever possible, and to have complete control over the type and level of taxes levied on local residents.

    Reform Scotland’s director, Geoff Mawdsley said: “Successive governments at Holyrood and Westminster have paid lip service to the importance of local government, while centralising its power and reducing its autonomy.

    “Local authorities should be raising more of what they spend. At present, they raise only £1.40 of every £10 they spend. Local democracy is at a crossroads – it is time for politicians to follow decades of words with some action.”

    A Scottish government spokesman said: “Local authority responsibilities are very clearly set out, and the focus of the Scottish government is on encouraging councils to empower communities across the country.

    “We have committed to a journey of reform to make local taxation more progressive and local authorities can already reduce non-domestic rates as they choose.”

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