Does local discretion on social security deliver ‘localism in action’ or a postcode lottery? That’s one of the questions being asked by the Commons Work and Pensions select committee in looking at the interaction between the national benefits system and locally-run schemes.
In the 1949 Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico, residents of the London borough set themselves up as a separate state with predictably comic results. When Pimlico’s governing committee lifts post-war rationing, shoppers flood to the new dominion only to find themselves trapped when its borders are later closed.
If I lost my job tomorrow, one of the things that I would expect would be that while I was not earning, I would not be paying tax. However, in 26 out of 33 London boroughs this is not the case: I would still need to pay council tax.