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Responding to the Secretary of State’s criticism of local government finance officers reported in ‘The Times’ today, CIPFA’s Chief Exec Steve Freer said:
The Secretary of State is entitled to have a strong view about the desirability of councils across the country freezing the council tax. But it is entirely unfair to blame council finance officers if individual local authorities choose not to heed Mr Pickles' advice.
Finance officers play critical roles in compiling budgets and giving professional advice about the financial and service implications of alternative options which may be considered. But the decision making about the council tax rests squarely with the council made up of elected councillors. That is not only the invariable practice, it is the law.
Criticism of decisions made by individual councils should be addressed to the local politicians responsible. I am sure that they will be ready to explain their actions and be accountable for them.
As for finance officers, they should continue to focus on giving their very best professional advice to councils bearing in mind the fiduciary responsibility they owe to local taxpayers.
Times article, Councils that put up tax 'are just wasting money': http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3313939.ece