Powers are to be given to local taxpayers to veto ‘excessive’ council tax rises imposed by Water Disposal Authorities under plans set out in the Queen’s Speech.
Local Audit and Accountability Bills are to be introduced by the government, which will extend referendum provision introduced in the 2011 Localism Act. It should allow local taxpayers to veto excessive council tax rises by unelected local quangos such as Waste Disposal Authorities, Integrated Transport Authorities, Pension Authorities and Internal Drainage Boards.
The Queen addressed Parliament about the legislative programme for government, and the announcement of the Bill comes just a few months after Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, hit out at the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority for pushing up council tax rates in the area due to what he called a ‘botched PFI deal’.
This bill follows up on the government’s commitment to close the local government watchdog, namely the Audit Commission. Alongside the Queens speech a briefing paper was published which explained that the Bill would ‘close the Audit Commission, make new arrangements for the audit of local public bodies and increase local accountability’.
The Queen’s speech also sets out the Government’s legislative programme, the government set out plans for a new Deregulation Bill to ‘reduce the burden of unnecessary legislation on firms looking to grow.’
The government explained that the main benefits of the Bill would be to reduce or remove burdens on businesses and Civil Society and facilitate growth; reduce or remove burdens on public bodies, the taxpayer or individuals; and, to tidy up the statute book by repealing legislation that is no longer of any practical use.