Local authorities in England have seen dramatic changes to their funding since 2010 with more changes in the pipeline. The government announced in 2015 that within five years, local authorities will be able to raise and keep all revenue from business rates. Additional powers over how council tax is raised and spent locally are also being transferred.
But local authorities also raise revenue through fees, charges and sales to residents. This could range from fines for the late return of library books, to planning application fees and parking charges.
Between 2010 and 2016, the total amount local authorities have raised through sales, fees and charges has slightly declined. However, the proportion of service expenditure financed by sales, fees and charges has risen.
User charges are not necessarily unfair. Moving to a model where residents are charged for services that they actually use is reasonable. But it is fundamentally unfair to ask residents to pay again for services which should be covered in their council tax.
Although there has been an increase in the number of people, cars and businesses across England during this period, sales, fees and charges in many spending areas have gone up in real terms on a per resident basis.