LGA publishes Budget ‘wish list’

Council chiefs have asked chancellor George Osborne to announce measures making it easier for town halls to issue bonds for investment in local infrastructure schemes.

In its pre-Budget submission to the Treasury, the Local Government Association (LGA) urges Mr Osborne to remove barriers – in the form of capital grant ring-fences – preventing authorities from raising money from council pension funds worth œ140bn, and other assets.

The LGA proposes the establishment of ‘local capital pots’ from which councils could invest in pro-growth infrastructure, such as new roads, bridges and buildings. Smith Square claims this would soften the impact of 45% reduction in local authority capital budgets over the spending review period, boost local economies and create new jobs.

Other key demands include the devolution of funding skills and transport to local areas, making it easier to pool public sector capital funding in a place and dismantling withholding taxes which discourage international investors from taking up municipal bonds.

Chair of the LGA, Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell said the proposals represented ‘a win-win deal for everyone from investors and businesses to job-seekers, pension scheme members and taxpayers.

Sir Merrick said: ‘Government has taken some steps towards giving councils the tools they need to get local economies growing. But the cuts to local authority budgets mean it is now more important than ever for the Treasury to give councils the financial autonomy they need to create jobs and bring growth to the economy.’

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