Localism bill

Councils will be granted new freedoms and powers under plans announced today - but are expected to make dramatic cuts in spending.

Eric Pickles will announce the bill in the Commons this afternoon. Among the measures expected are plans to allow different councils to share service provision to improve efficiency and to give neighbourhood groups a greater say in local planning decisions.

The government is framing the proposals around the 'big society' narrative, taking power away from central government and removing barriers to greater community provision of services.

But critics point to huge cuts in grants from central government as inevitably leading to fewer and lower quality local services.

Mr Pickles will argue that although the cuts are significant, they will have most impact on 'wasteful' areas of spending.

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