The Localism Act represents an encouraging shift of power from central government to communities – but concerns still remain over some of the Act’s key policies. That is the message from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) as the Localism Bill receives Royal Assent.
Many councils already have effective local consultation procedures. CIPFA therefore has concerns that council tax referenda may simply lead to an increased burden and costs to councils which will be passed on to taxpayers. Instead of empowering the electorate, referenda could actually dilute local consultation procedures and democratic accountability.
The Act also allows for community groups to buy local assets such as pubs, shops and libraries, and to run local services. CIPFA stresses that any group using public resources and operating public services needs to have adequate infrastructure and processes in place, including governance, financial management and HR in order to maintain standards of control and accountability.
Alison Scott, Assistant Director of Local Government at CIPFA, commented:
“The Localism Act is the largest transfer of power back to councils and local communities in a generation. But with this upheaval comes uncertainty and local authorities will need to work closely with their communities to ensure they are working effectively.
“We will wait and see whether council tax referenda have a positive impact on local democracy. But for community groups to deliver services, they need proper support coupled with strong governance and financial management systems and processes from the outset.”
CIPFA Press Office
T: 020 7543 5600
CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, CIPFA’s portfolio of qualifications are the foundation for a career in public finance. They include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions. They are taught by our in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre as well as other places of learning around the world. We also champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services. This includes the development of local professional qualifications in African countries like Lesotho and Nigeria and in Europe in post conflict states in the Balkans.