Loosening the shackles

By Peter Ware | 27 March 2015

Cuts in public funding have caused councils to look for alternative ways to raise income in recent years, and many are looking to their existing powers as an opportunity to supplement the funding they receive from central government.

A wide range of powers exist which allow councils to trade and to charge for services but these are often underused.

The perception of councils making a profit is controversial (we only need to consider the views of Mr Pickles and his vocal criticism of parking enforcement and other fines to see the extent of this difficulty for councils.)

Such powers are, in any event, subject to a complex legal framework and this complexity does not help in making the best use of the opportunities available.

However, if councils are going to find a way of sustainably delivering public services, they must be allowed to take ownership of the way in which they charge for certain services and whether they ought to trade in others.

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