A commitment to excellence for your community
"Local Councils are vital to re-invigorating local democracy. The Quality Parish
and Town Council Scheme has played an important role in improving the quality
of management and administration of parish and town councils. The Government
welcomes the revision of the Scheme and encourages local councils to consider
Department for Communities and Local Government.
The Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme was launched in 2003 following the Government's Rural White Paper, 2000. The aim of the Scheme is to provide benchmark minimum standards for parish and town councils. The Scheme is supported by six National Stakeholders, the Commission for Rural Communities, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Local Government Association, the National Association of Local Councils and the Society of Local Council Clerks.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs commissioned the University of Wales to review the Scheme in 2006 and their research helped the National Stakeholders to the Scheme to agree amendments that would help councils achieve ever higher levels of professionalism and help to cement their position as community leaders.
As of 27 June 2008 the Scheme changed to better reflect the increased professionalism of councils. There are now three tests which are highlighted below but there are also a number of amendments to some of the existing tests, again mentioned below.
Click here to open a copy of the booklet “A Guide to Becoming a Quality Council.”
Click here to open a copy of test 7 as of 1 July 2012.
The Quality Parish Scheme is currently under review and some transitional arrangements are in place which will affect accreditations and reaccreditations. Click here to open guidance on the transitional arrangements.
In order to achieve Quality Status, parish and town councils must demonstrate that they have reached the standard required by passing several tests. These are:
- Electoral Mandate
- Qualifications of the clerk
- Council meetings
- Communication and Community Engagement
- Annual Report
- Code of Conduct
- Promoting local democracy and citizenship
- Terms and conditions
Changes to the Scheme, in addition to the three new tests, as of 27 June 2008 are as follows:
- Electoral mandate test - Councils will be required to show that at least two-thirds of councillors were elected. 'Elected' can mean either at a contested or uncontested election. However, they must have stood.
- Council meetings test - Councils will be required to publish draft minutes of meetings within two months of it taking place and make them available for inspection by any elector in the parish, as a minimum
- Communications and Community Engagement test (Mandatory):
- Councils will be required to have a website which provides a list of council members and officers, details of how they can be contacted and which also provides access to the annual report.
- Councils will also be required to have an email address that is publicly available.
- Councils now have the option of either producing their own newsletter or contributing to a community newsletter. The information that is required to be included in the newsletter has not changed nor has the requirement that the newsletter is made readily available at public sites.
- Communications and Community Engagement test (Discretionary) - Two new options have been added;
- A Community Engagement strategy has been formulated; and
- Councils provide a regular weblog on their website about council activity or encourage the community to talk to them through an online forum or through surveys on the website.
- Code of Conduct test - Councils will be required to have formally adopted Section 12 (2) of the Code of Conduct which concerns the prejudicial interests of councillors and public participation.
- New test - Promoting Local Democracy and Citizenship test - Councils will be required to demonstrate that they work proactively to support local democracy and citizenship. A specific guidance note is available showing the kinds of activities you may wish to consider. However, the note is intended to be illustrative only and we would encourage councils to be innovative.
- New test - Terms and Conditions - Councils with a paid clerk will be required to provide evidence that they have adopted (as a minimum) the NALC/SLCC Terms and Conditions agreement and provide evidence in the form of a statement that they have issued all paid members of staff with a contract of employment.
- New test - Training - Councils will be required to provide a training 'Statement of Intent' which shows that the council has identified key areas of training need for both staff and members. A specific guidance note is available to help you with this test.
Specific guidance notes are available on this website to help you meet the Democracy and Citizenship test, the Training test and to help you meet the mandatory website requirement and discretionary requirement for a Community Engagement Strategy. These are live documents and with your help we will add further information and advice to help councils with their applications.
- Click here to open a copy of the Democracy & Citizenship test guidance note
- Click here to open a copy of the Training guidance note
- Click here to open a copy of the Communication and Community Engagement note
- Click here for a copy of the QPS checklist/application inserts
- Click here for a copy of the QPS Application form
- Click here to open a document highlighting some of the benefits that councils have experienced following the award of Quality Status
- Click here for a list of Quality Councils (updated March 2013)
- Click here to open a copy of the Frequently Asked Questions document which may be a good reference tool if you have any questions about the Scheme (updated 10 Jan 2012)
- Click here to open a document that explains exemptions at reaccreditation for the Qualified Clerk test.
If you require any additional information on Quality Status please contact your local county association.