That was the year that was

By Michael Burton | 06 January 2015

The year began as it meant to go on, namely with local government furious yet again at Whitehall, this time over the new business rate retention scheme.

A survey published in January 2014 by the Local Government Association found that only 29% of those polled believed the new system was sufficiently motivational. A separate study by HR services group, Penna, found that working with central government was the worst part of being a council chief executive.

There was further annoyance when ministers said they were pushing back the announcement of the council tax referendum ceiling as late as mid-February. Business leaders urged North East councils to get plans for a combined authority ‘back on track.’ Experts predicted that more councils in England would seek mergers following the Williams Review in Wales proposing a cut in Welsh councils to a maximum dozen. However, the DCLG poured cold water on any further fiscal devolution. Talking of water, endless rain caused floods in Somerset and embarrassment for ministers.

At the end of the month the Government rejected claims by the Commons CLG committee that community budgets (remember them?) were becoming bogged down due to Whitehall inertia. On a sadder note, The MJ reported that former managing director of Local Government Employers Jan Parkinson lost her battle with cancer.

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Budgets and efficiency Whitehall Local Government Association MHCLG SOLACE Welfare reform Council Tax Devolution CIPFA Better Care Fund