Good news for the residents of Buckinghamshire - Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has backed a proposal for a single, unitary council. The proposed change has strong local support, both amongst the residents and the councilors. According to Buckinghamshire County Council leader Martin Tett, the move will ‘simplify the current local government setup, save many millions of pounds to plough back into frontline services and enable services to be provided for residents at a truly local level.’
He’s right. More and more areas in the country are deciding to opt for the simpler, single-tier local government structure, which replaces the County/District divide with a single – or ‘unitary’ – body responsible for all aspects of local government in their region. In Dorset, two new unitary authorities are being proposed, with estimated savings reaching £108 million in the first six years. In Oxfordshire, a proposal to abolish six councils is estimated to save £100 million over five years. When in 2009 Wiltshire County Council became a unitary authority, £150 million has been saved. That’s on top of benefits such as greater transparency and simplicity in dealing with local government.
Having a single body solely responsible for an area also paves the way replacing grants to local authorities with devolved taxes which would encourage more responsible spending. The UK has one of the most centralised tax systems in the developed world. In 2016, a staggering 95 per cent of all tax revenue was raised centrally. Yet as evidenced in our 2015 Spending Plan, studies show that efficiency increases with fiscal decentralisation. Taxpayers would be closer to the organisations deciding how their money is spent, making the process easier to scrutinise.
And that’s a good thing. Like and share if you agree!