Committee recommends greater powers for local authorities

27.06.2014

Local authorities should have increased freedoms and powers according to a report issued today by the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee.

The report follows the Committee’s inquiry into the flexibility and autonomy of the local government. The inquiry examined how local government and communities together can best deliver effective local services.  Subject to minimum standards across the country each local authority should be free to determine what powers to exercise with central controls at all levels kept to a minimum.

Whilst the Committee did not support increasing the number of local authorities or councillors, it agreed there must be a cultural change in local government to delegate decision making to the most local level.

The Committee also recommends an independent cross-party commission is established with a view to reviewing local authority funding with a new financial system, being identified in time for the local government elections due to take place in 2017. 

Committee Convener Kevin Stewart MSP said:

“In order for communities to be truly empowered they must have the confidence that decisions are taken at the level where their needs are best understood.

“For this to happen, many more functions of local government must be devolved downward and there needs to be a greater willingness in local government to do this.

"Finance is always a key factor and that is why we have suggested that after the referendum a cross-party commission should be established, with a view to a new system being identified before the next council elections in 2017."

Background

Over the last three years, the Committee has undertaken a programme of work examining how local government in Scotland can be made more effective. This has included looking at how communities are served and the tools available to local government to serve them. Previous reports by the Committee can be found here:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/29852.aspx

During the course of the inquiry, the Committee undertook a series of visits to find out how local government operated in other jurisdictions as well as island and remote communities.

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