Councils left to do Whitehall’s inequality work

A week after announcing a new inequality Bill, statistics show that inequality over the last 12 years has risen to its widest level since records began, despite the efforts of central government to reduce inequality.

According to Tony Travers, writing in the LGC today:

“It is more likely this is the beginning of a ‘blame-shifting’ exercise. Once the Equalities Bill is enacted, ministers will be able to blame councils and the NHS for not reducing inequality.

The present government, with more centralised power than any in the developed world and which controls 95% of taxation, was incapable of reducing income inequality. Yet in future local public institutions will be put under a legal obligation to do so.

If local government is to be given a new duty to deliver equality, it will need far greater power and autonomy than hitherto. If we had had such local freedom, there is a fair chance some councils would have delivered significant equalities benefits.

As it is, centralisation stops most effective innovations, including those that might reduce inequality.”

According to Localis, this calls into serious question the legitimacy of Regional Development Agencies, whose primary purpose upon inception was to help alleviate regional and intra-regional disparities.

To read the LGC article, please click here