Since 2009-10, English councils have reduced their spending on non-education services by 19%. At the same time, there have been substantial changes to the funding system, with business rates retention, the Fair Funding Review and potentially major changes to the social care system, all ongoing policy issues. In this context, what might fair and sustainable funding for local government look like? In this presentation, given at the CIPFA annual conference in Bournemouth, IFS Associate Director discusses these contested issues. There is no one answer for which such a system might look like - fairness is of course subjective. But a focus on big picture questions - such as the priority placed on local autonomy versus national standards for different services - as well as the policy details is important in designing a finance system that can help deliver policy objectives.