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Cuts are killing local government

Councils are little more than agencies of Whitehall

By Simon Jenkins   February 2014

Britain’s local government is withering on the fiscal vine. Though a quarter of public spending is still administered locally, a mere 15 per cent of that quarter is covered by local taxes. Services are now almost all ordained by central statute. Council taxes and spending is largely determined by the Treasury. Councils are little more than agencies of Whitehall, coated in a veneer of democratic election.

Popular caricature has David Cameron’s coalition making deep cuts in public expenditure. This is untrue. In 2009, the high point of Gordon Brown’s supposed squandermania, total government spending was £633bn. After four years of…

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