What would the Scottish model of policy-making suggest?
A more integrated approach to service delivery needs to take account of both vertical and horizontal linkages ie central-local integration and integration across functional services. Protecting one area of current spending can only be achieved either by increasing revenues or cutting elsewhere. It may be that there is a confluence of disparate influences with local and Scottish government reaching a common conclusion in the reform of local government taxation while having different logics. But the limits of any common ground should not be exaggerated. Local government wants the power to raise more money because it wants to continue to deliver the same level of services. The pressure on local government services will increase with demographic changes and the impact of welfare reform. Scottish central government also wants to maintain levels of services but has the added pressure of having to make cuts.
The Commission on Local Taxation might end up allowing local authorities to raise more revenue. It may find a scheme that is more progressive than that currently used. However, unless the Commission’s work is set within a broader debate on spending priorities and ring-fencing, the end product may be that local authorities end up subsidising Scottish Government spending by the back door.