Thursday, 25 March 2010

Overview of Local Government- Notes from Lectures

• NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) people who suggest, for example, the building of wind turbines but wouldn’t want it near their property etc.
• Building needs to be on appropriate land. Green belt- area around cities that prevent towns and cities from merging, protect the countryside so these areas cannot be built on. Brown field- land that can be built on and re-used. Green field is land that also cannot be built on.
• Town and County planning codes make the acts.
• Process of planning:
1) Forward Planning: strategic development
2) Development Control.
• The current community secretary is John Denham. He publishes guidelines for local planning authorities. Issues Planning Policy Statements (PPS).
• RSS- Regional Spatial Strategies- this is more specific to regional strategies. National policy strategies also introduced.
• Community Secretary appoints inspectors to convene in public planning enquiries and controversial enquiries. Has complete power over everything and gets to give final ruling.
• 2004 Act simplifies the planning process.
• A 20 year plan was produced by each of England’s eight regions development agencies.
• Local development documents are interpreted by local councils of the RSS, however this leads to friction between Whitehall and local councils over national quotas.
• 60% of RDA (Regional Development Association) are local councillors, 40% are appointed representatives.
• Major developments are now moving away from the RSS and are now under the responsibility if the IPC (Infrastructure Planning Commission). The IPC are independent from the government and the hearings are held in public.
• IPC replace political decisions with impartial ones.
• Planning permission: to build on a site from scratch or undergo a MAJOR alteration there are two steps to go through.
1) Outline planning permission- consent in principle which lasts for five years but must be acted upon in three years.
2) Full planning permission must be acted upon in five years. Authorities can give unconditional consent, conditional consent or refusal.
• Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) - owners of a building are paid at market rate if the building needs to be cleared.
• Listed buildings, grade one and two cannot be altered.

• Rules of privilege- anything can be reported however DO NOT EVER MENTION THE ROYALS!!
• Each day, except for Friday, begins with questions to the Minister from one department. MPs can question the Minister at the start of daily proceedings.
• Minister from each Whitehall department are questioned roughly once a month.
• Ministerial questions- either when Ministers have something important to announce to bring MPs up to date on a topical issue.
• Ministerial statements are often completely out of the blue.
• Conservative spokesman (2009) has five minutes to reply and Lib Dem spokesman has three minutes to reply as they have fewer seats in parliament.
• Questions from MPs are taken at the speaker’s discretion.
• Voting in the Commons formerly called a division.
• House of Lords- all new laws have to be approved by both Houses of Parliament, except for taxes which are approved by MPs.
• In the event of disagreement, can be overruled by government use of parliament acts.
• Life peers- appointed due to profession or loyalty to political party.
• Party funding comes from subscription from members, donations are heavily relied on and state funding.
• Ashcroft money- the theory goes that as the Ashcroft’s have an overseas bank, they do not get taxed on it, Labour wants to tax them on the money, however the Tory’s say they will not tax them on the account if they support their party and give donations!
• Scrutiny Regulations.
• Bank of England is in charge of treasury. CPI (Consumer Price Index).
• Quantitative easing- Bank of England created £75billion in 2009 to try and revive the economy.
• Ofgem- gas and electric.
• Ofcom- communications.
• Local Government- made up of single tier and two tier systems.
• Single tier councils are responsible for all local authority services and functions.
• Two tier- services divided between district and county councils.
• Local authorities employ over 2 billion people, councillors are responsible for making decisions on behalf of local community.
• CCT (Compulsive Competitive Tender) encouraged by Thatcher to put local services to private tender. More competitive to make services better.
• Education- largest service supported by authorities.
• Social Services- in charge of children’s homes, foster care etc and half their budget goes to support the elderly.
• Waste management- county council is responsible for waste disposal and district council is responsible for waste collection.
• Roads, highways and transport- 96% of roads built, maintained and managed by local authorities.
• Libraries, trading standards and fire and rescue and environmental affairs are also managed by the local government.
• Local authorities funded by grants from central government, council tax and business rates.
• Council tax accounts for 25% of local funding.
• Council tax payable depends on the value of your home.
• Business rates are a property tax on businesses, set by the central government.
• Grants given by central government at Westminster so authority can give their services.
• Government of London- London elects a Mayor and an assembly which form the Greater London Authority (GLA).
• Quango- Non elected or indirectly elected agency that spends public money. The government refer to these agencies as Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPB).

• Act of Union in Ireland 1901.
• Act of Union in Scotland 1907.
• In 1922 the Irish Free State was established (Republic of Ireland).
• 1920s/ 1930s nationalists campaigned for independence, i.e. Scottish National Party (SNP).
• In 1972 Northern Ireland’s parliament was suspended and then abolished in 1973 in favour of direct rule from Westminster.
• In 1997 Labour won the general election and pledged to have referendums on devolution in Scotland and Wales.
• In 1998 devolution referendums in Scotland and Wales produced yes votes.
• In 2007 the Northern Ireland assembly and executives were restored.
• Reserved powers (Police, justice, minimum wage, financial services etc) versus Devolved powers (separate powers such as Scotland, Ireland and Wales).
• Scotland has its own legal system but limited tax raising powers.
• After 2007 the Welsh assembly could pass primary legislation. Same with Northern Ireland, responsible for education etc.

• ‘Homes for Heroes’ programme began cleaning up the slums between WW1 and WW2.
• Planned estates built pre WW2 created huge urban areas for housing, whole new cities were built.
• In the 1950s there was a baby boom, which meant a huge demand for housing and many tower blocks were built.
• More towns were created in the 1960s- all with good infrastructures and two or three storey houses.
• Each local authority maintains their own stock of social housing.
• Council houses- the benefits of council houses include security, rent below market average, no deposit etc.
• The Homeless Act of 2002 introduced a point system to prioritise applicants.
• Councils are responsible for repairing social housing.
• Thatcherite Housing Policy- Conservatives were elected in 1979 and 5 million council tenants were given the chance to buy their homes at a 50% discounted price.
• From 1980 to 1995, 2.1 million houses were brought by the tenants, since then council houses have been sold off at a rate of 60,000 per year.
• A total of £33billion has been made from the scheme.
• In 1961 44% of homes were owned, in 2006 this had risen to 70%.
• The government plans to build three million new homes by 2020.
• Under the Homeless Act 1977, the duty of the local authority is to house the unintentionally homeless within 28 days of being aware of their predicament.
• Housing benefits fall into 2 categories:
1) Standard housing benefit- paid to those on low earnings.
2) Certified housing benefit- job seekers allowance, income support and incapability benefit.

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