47 – Core services in local government. What are they?

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              560 words

In an earlier post I discussed local government services and how they can be defined. This post discusses the concept of ‘core’ services delivered by councils, particularly in relation to the potential impact of rate capping (see here, here, here and here). Councils will be looking to reduce the rate of growth in expenditure and many will have to reduce current levels of expenditure. It will not be possible to maintain delivery of all services at current service levels. The starting point is likely to be a discussion about what makes a service a ‘core’ service.

A working definition of a core service is anything the council does that it is compelled to do under legislation. For example, hold elections and form a council, make and enforce local laws, provide a town planning service, control building development, inspect food premises, ensure there is a road to every property. Councils have no choice but to provide these services. Councils also have to prepare some statutory plans, for example the Public Health Plan. The State government has passed legislation to ensure that they do. The council is an authority.

The next category of ‘core’ service are the universal services provided to all citizens. Continue reading