According to reports in The Times and Financial Times Eric Pickles MP wants to encourage local councils to cut costs by pooling the administration and delivery of certain key services and, as a reward, they will get the opportunity to keep more of the council tax that they raise. The FT identifies "childcare services, council tax, benefits administration, waste disposal, IT and payroll functions" as functions most likely to be pooled.
Mr Pickles hinted at these reforms during a Q&A with this website, just before Christmas:
"Reorganisation by structure is rather old-fashioned, we will change local government from within by way of function and powers. We will encourage local authorities to share power and finance on common problems."
The Times reports that "dozens of council chiefs who earn more than Cabinet ministers would lose their jobs as clusters of councils merged their frontline services and backroom operations to provide better value for money."
The policy development is another victory for The TaxPayers’ Alliance that has led the campaign against ‘Town Hall fat cats’.
4pm: The Guardian: "Labour said that six out of the eight highest earning council chiefs were employed by Conservative-run authorities, and said that the proposal revealed a "serious political rift" between the Tory high command and its councillors on the ground. Hazel Blears, the local government secretary, accused her Conservative shadow, Eric Pickles, of being "all over the place" on the issue, pointing out that government plans to cut town hall salary bills by merging councils into unitary authorities were opposed by the Tories."