Headlines: March 21st, 2007



The final report of Sir Michael Lyons’s inquiry into the future role, function and funding of local government will be published today with council leaders claiming it is the best opportunity in years for an urgent overhaul of the way local services are funded. At the publication of “Place-shaping: a shared ambition for the future of local government” , Sir Michael will unveil his final recommendations and highlight the important part local government can play in creating a new system of governance.

Today’s publication will be followed by a special conference next week at which delegates will have the first opportunity to consider the report’s key themes of economic prosperity and infrastructure, place shaping and local choice and a single system of governance. More than 400 people, including representatives from the voluntary and private sectors as well as local authority chief executives, have already signed up for the event.

The conference is being led by the Inquiry Team and in addition to giving those taking part a chance to discuss the report in detail with Sir Michael, there will be international contributions. Sir Michael will use today’s launch of the long-anticipated final report to stress the role of local government in creating what he has called a system of effective governance for the 21st century, that can manage increasing pressures on public expenditure, improve satisfaction and build more prosperous communities.

In advance of today’s publication, the Local Government Association has warned that unless it contains plans for a radical overhaul of the financing of local authorities, council taxpayers will face even bigger bills or cuts in services. The LGA says, in addition to a shake up of the council tax system, reforms must include the restoration of the link between local government and business as well as plans to give councils the powers to catch up with towns and cities in Europe. The LGA is also looking for support for its proposals for an independent commission on local government funding to ensure the government meets the full cost of new legislation and the increasing demands it places on councils to provide services.