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The gathering storm

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Recently Reform published a collection of essays: ‘How to run a country’. One part of this series is an essay, from our Executive Chairman, outlining the case for greater devolution. This is a subject close to the heart of all at Cratus working as we do to support our clients in aligning their expertise with locally-defined priorities for public services.

There’s a storm brewing in local government. The winds of change are all blowing towards agreement that “local” is the way forward. And with the Scottish referendum looming, these winds are now reaching gale-force.

The day after I stepped down as Chairman of the Local Government Association this July, a House of Commons’ select committee published a report including these words, “Scotland and Wales are gaining much greater control over taxation and borrowing, including responsibility for business rates, stamp duty and partial control over income tax. […] A similar case can be made for devolving many of these powers to areas in England.”

In these times of political apathy, disillusionment and expenses scandals, 77 per cent of people trust their councils most to make decisions on local public services. In comparison, only 13 per cent of people trust government most to make these decisions.

Every five years, national politicians make their sacrifice at the altar of local government, only to recant their faith once the votes have been cast. But how can we make 2015 different? What will it take for a political party to realise our untapped potential? And which party will it be?

It will be the political party that understands that there is something deeper happening when people say that they trust local choice over national decisions; that they trust people who know the local area and who live and work in their local neighbourhood. It might not happen this year, or next year, but it will happen. And when it does, politics in this country will never quite be the same again and much the better for it.

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