Self-sufficient local government: 100 per cent business rates retention: Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) consultation

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Our response to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) consultation on self-sufficient local government: 100 per cent business rates retention.

The King's Fund welcomes the overall shift towards giving local areas greater powers and independence from Whitehall. These reforms should be seen in the context of wider moves towards the devolution of decision-making to local government in order to better align delivery of services with local need.

There are some significant issues that require careful assessment if the benefits of this shift are to be realised. The ability of more affluent and economically advantaged areas being able to raise more through business rates than areas with higher levels of deprivation need to be recognised and quantified and an effective equalisation mechanism put in place. Without this, areas with the poorest health outcomes and highest levels of need for publicly funded social care could be further disadvantaged. The same is true for public health.

Account should also be taken of current developments in the NHS towards planning by ‘place’ rather than individual organisations – in particular, through the creation of 44 sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) to enable collaboration across organisational boundaries, including local government (The King’s Fund 2016). The need for the NHS and local authorities to align and jointly plan their resources in order to achieve the best outcomes for their local population has never been greater; changes to the way local government is funded should as a minimum seek to not make this more difficult to achieve and ideally make local collaboration easier.