Across the country a quiet revolution is under way. We've devolved powers and devolved finances to local government, so people have more flexibility than ever before to transform their services.
And trailblazers like our Community and Neighbourhood Budget pilots are proving that if councils shake things up there are savings to be made.
Essex believes it can reduce re-offending by 5 per cent and make net savings of £124 million by the end of the decade.
Greater Manchester reckons £224 million of savings are possible over the next five years just by sorting out their troubled families.
And if you can save millions by improving services locally, nationally we can save billions. Billions to be reinvested in protecting vulnerable communities, keeping vital services in place for hard working people and building the homes people need. Not to mention paying off Labour's credit card bill.
When you think about it, it is staggering that Labour politicians like Hilary Benn oppose every single cut when Alistair Darling set out 52 billion pounds of cuts in his March 2010 budget.
You would think listening to the BBC that sensible savings and improved services were a bad thing. To them every saving is a cut. It’s high time the BBC curbed some of her wasteful ways and became more transparent with our cash.
Public sector monoliths and town hall titans need to heed the old financial adage with “great power comes great responsibility”.
But our quiet revolution is overturning the established order of things. Localism won’t give councils any excuse to shirk their responsibilities. Increasingly, it won’t be decisions taken by the centre that determine what authorities get but decisions made locally.
Authorities have a duty to support their residents. I don’t have a problem with councils that want to put up council tax if they have a good reason – to fund local opportunities. But I do have an issue if they don’t ask permission first. They have to man up. Be straight with people. Take them into their confidence. If the public believes you’ve got a sensible case they might well listen. But councils should also stop treating residents with contempt. That’s why we’re making sure local people have their say by lowering the referendum threshold for council tax.
Democracy dodgers who try creep in under the radar, putting up their stealth tax by 1.99 per cent in a bid to avoid our 2 percent referendum threshold, need a reality check. We will take into consideration anybody cheating their taxpayers. Anybody using loop holes will lose out next year.
Instead, authorities need to ask the right questions. Are we doing enough to cut out the waste? Are we doing enough to innovate? Are we putting our people first? Then they will realise cash strapped taxpayers, don’t deserve needless tax rises.
What residents really want is cuts to taxes not bin collections; potholes filled not pockets. Councils that put their people first, will get the idea. To those that don’t we’re sending out a message loud and clear. The days of the knee jerk tax and spend hike are over. And there is a clear dividing line here. We want to freeze council tax and save on average families 72 pounds a year on a band d property. Labour scoff at this and brand it a gimmick. It just shows how out of touch they are.
A growing band of quiet revolutionaries are starting to heed our call. Districts like Stroud and Teignbridge or West Sussex and Wolverhampton are freezing again. While Windsor and Maidenhead, Hammersmith and Fulham and South Oxfordshire are going further still and actually reducing bills.
Already we know of 115 can do councils who will freeze council tax for a third year from Derby to Dorset, Northampton to Norfolk and Wolverhampton to Worcester. It’s a good start but we can go further. So let’s see authorities, fired up with that revolutionary spirit, savings in their sights, stepping up to ball and scoring a hat trick for their residents.