LGA split over opposition to pooling receipts
The Local Government Association has declared its opposition to the pooling of capital receipts for debt-free authorities - despite a previous decision by its housing executive to take a neutral stance on the issue.
The LGA's response to the government's consultation on its ‘blue skies' housing capital finance paper said it was ‘opposed in principle' to the pooling of receipts from those authorities without debt.
The decision follows concerted lobbying by local authorities opposed to the proposals, which would force them to share their capital receipts with debt-ridden councils throughout the country (Inside Housing, 30 August).
The LGA executive voted by six votes to five to oppose the pooling principle, in what is understood to have been a struggle along party political lines.
The vote was informed by local authority responses to a consultation exercise on the issue, which the LGA launched in August. Seventy-five authorities were opposed to receipt pooling for debt-free authorities, compared with 23 who supported the proposals and another 23 that thought the LGA should take a neutral position.
‘The LGA is showing that it is standing up for local government'
Paul Jenks, chair of the LGA's housing executive, said: ‘The housing executive previously adopted a position of not taking sides in distribution issues. The LGA's main executive has adopted a policy of opposing the pooling of capital receipts, therefore that is the policy of the LGA.'
Croydon Council deputy leader Tony Newman said he was ‘genuinely surprised' that the LGA had taken a stance on the issue, describing it as a backward step.
But Paul Bettison, leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said local authority responses provided ‘clear guidance' that they ‘wanted the LGA to be proactive'.
‘The LGA is showing that it is standing up for local government. It's not the lap dog of government,' he said.
‘Simply stealing from prudent councils to give to less prudent councils is not going to get an egalitarian state,' he added.