Consultation Paper and Interim Report published
Lyons Inquiry Press Notice: 15 December 2005
Today Sir Michael Lyons is launching a consultation exercise on the future role of local government, in order to develop well-founded proposals for a funding system which is sustainable, fair and effective for the future. He is asking what the public want local government to do, and how to strike the right balance between the need for adequate national standards on the one hand, and sufficient local choice over service priorities on the other. His work to date shows that the public are confused about who makes the key decisions on local services, what those services cost, and how they are paid for.
Sir Michael's Interim Report, published today, argues that a well-informed public debate needs to take place in every community and invites local authorities to engage with their local communities to work out how best to address the questions raised.
Sir Michael said:
"Local government has always had a major and unique role to play in helping to define and deliver successful communities, making decisions and trade-offs on behalf of all local people, and developing a strategic view of the area and its future. It is not just about the provision or enabling of services. It is about shaping successful communities that are socially cohesive, economically vibrant and able to exercise choice and celebrate their distinctiveness.
"But if local government is to fulfil this role effectively as we face the challenges of the 21st century, we need to develop a better understanding of what local government is responsible for. This requires a better understanding of what the public want - as citizens, service users and taxpayers. It also requires a debate about some hard choices: how can we get the right balance between national standards and local variation? How can we most appropriately balance what the public want and what they are willing to pay for, and in doing so how can we manage pressures more effectively? And who should be accountable for what?"
Part 1 of the report sets out how Sir Michael intends to approach his extended remit into the role and function of local government. It seeks views and evidence on the key issues. In particular, the Report seeks views on the strategic role of local government - referred to as "place shaping", the role of devolution and decentralisation in delivering services, and ways in which the pressures on local services could be better managed. It also raises questions about the scope for a new and clearer agreement between local and central government as the basis for a way forward.
Part 2 sets out issues arising from his work to date on the funding of local government. The annexes to the report include the results of analytical work on the impact of a range of illustrative options for the reform of council tax, and a summary of the responses he has received so far relating to his initial remit on local government funding. Sir Michael is also publishing submissions received from organisations and the research commissioned by the Inquiry so far.
Sir Michael is inviting responses to the questions posed in the main report by 13 March 2006. Any comments on the analysis set out in Annexes A and B should be received by 31 January 2006. Sir Michael Lyons plans to publish his final report at the end of 2006.
Notes for Editors
- Sir Michael Lyons was originally commissioned in July 2004 by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor to make recommendations on how to reform the local government funding system by December 2005. On 20 September 2005 the remit of the Inquiry was extended to enable Sir Michael to consider issues of function before finalising his conclusions on funding. The inquiry will conclude with a final report to Ministers in late 2006.
- Copies of the report, all submissions received from organisations so far, research commissioned by the Inquiry to date, and the terms of reference for the Inquiry, can be found on the Lyons Inquiry website at www.lyonsinquiry.org.uk.
- Any press enquiries should be directed to GNN on 020 7217 3779.