Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
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Healey: Taxpayers should see council savings for themselves

Healey: Taxpayers should see council savings for themselves

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (218) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 3 September 2008

Local Government Minister John Healey has today launched a consultation on giving the public greater access to information on how efficiently their council is being run.

Mr Healey wants to put council tax payers themselves at the heart of the drive to make £5bn town hall savings over the next three years - worth an average of £184 per Band D council tax payer.

The Minister said council tax payers should see for themselves how efficiently their council is being run when they receive their bills, through proposals that complement the Government's aim that taxpayers receive the maximum value for money.

Under these proposals, all council tax bills would include the efficiency savings the local authority has made.

Information accompanying the bill would show the average level of efficiency savings achieved by similar councils over the same time period so people can see how well their council is performing compared to other areas.

This will give tax payers information they can use to challenge their council and hold them to account if they are performing poorly, whether for example by petitioning their council, or through the ballot box.

Local Government Minister John Healey said:

"Councils have a good track record in making savings and becoming more efficient. Over the past four years, they are expected to have delivered more than £3.3bn savings - the equivalent of £123 off the average Band D council tax bill.

"But more can always be done so I look for councils to make around £5bn further savings over the next three years, to meet the expectations the public rightly hold for councils to deliver for their local communities. These savings can then be used to further invest in services or reduce council tax bills.

"I accept this is a big challenge but am confident it can be achieved - particularly if council tax payers are involved. They rightly expect improving services and better value for money and should be entitled to know how their council is performing when they receive their bills on their doormat.

"That's why I am acting to ensure that local people will be able to see for themselves how efficiently their council is run, and to be able to challenge their council if it is under-performing."

Under the proposals, council tax bills and accompanying information will include key efficiency figures including:

* The savings they expect to have made in the previous financial year;

* These projected savings expressed as the equivalent saving on the Band D council tax bill and as a percentage of what the council spent in 2007-08;

* The average projected savings by similar types of councils, expressed as the equivalent saving on the average Band D council tax bill; and

* The actual savings made in the financial year two years before the bill.

In January, Mr Healey announced £185m over the next three years for Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships, which will work with councils to help them achieve nearly £5bn efficiency savings.

Notes to editors:

1. Inclusion of efficiency information with council tax demand notices: a consultation paper is published today and can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/counciltaxefficiencyinformation

2. Funding for Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships was announced on 15 January, 2008. Details can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/649334

3. Between April 2004 and March 2008, councils are expected to have made £3.3bn cash-releasing savings, which can be used to fund local priorities or reduce council tax bills.

4. The £3.3bn efficiency savings are the equivalent of £123 off the average Band D council tax bill. In line with other public services, councils are expected to make three per cent annual efficiency savings, amounting to £4.9bn between April 2008 and March 2011, and the equivalent of £184 for the average Band D bill.

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