HBF member briefing: The Localism Bill

13 December, 2010

Dear member,

As reported in the HBF Weekly News on Friday, the Government’s flagship Localism Bill is being laid before Parliament today.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued a press release on the Bill – to read, follow this link -  accompanied by a short guide on “Decentralisation and the Localism Bill” (please click here to view).

The guide sets out six essential actions the Government is taking to decentralise power from Whitehall to local authorities and communities and key provisions in the Localism Bill that relate to these actions. The six actions are:

Lifting the burden of bureaucracy – on which the Bill will abolish regional strategies/ targets, the Standards Board regime for councils and the current “predetermination” rules for councillors;

Empowering communities to do things their way – the Bill will give local authorities a General Power of Competence to do anything not specifically prohibited by law, create a community right to buy to prevent the closure of local assets and give people new rights to shape development through neighbourhood plans;

Increasing local control of public finance – the Bill will require local authorities to hold a referendum on any proposed rise in Council Tax above a certain threshold, give councils the power to grant a discount in business rates and require authorities to allocate a proportion of CIL revenues back to the neighbourhood from which it was raised;

Diversifying the supply of public services – the Bill will create a community right to challenge to run local services as well as the right to buy

Opening up Government to public scrutiny – the Bill will introduce a range of measures requiring central and local government to publish information about their expenditure

Strengthening accountability to local people – the Bill will give local residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue and provide for directly elected mayors for 12 English cities subject to referendums.

While measures to introduce the new locally based planning system will be an important part of the Bill, its scope is much wider than this and it constitutes a very major piece of legislation.

HBF has issued a press release on the Bill – please click here to view –  and will circulate a separate briefing note on the Bill’s main provisions of interest to members as soon as we have been able to study its contents.

With best wishes,

John Slaughter

Director of External Affairs