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Learning to be more open and transparent

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At a time when there is more demand for public bodies to be more open and transparent, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has published a guide for finance and transparency.

The guide is designed specifically to help local (parish and town) councillors support their communities and council in understanding their obligations and commitments with public money.

It details various aspects of local council finance written with the new councillor in mind, although for more experienced members. It covers various topics such as audit and transparency that have changed recently, noting that many areas of local council finance are different to those of principal authorities.

Cllr Sue Baxter, chair of National Association of Local Councils (NALC) said: “The local council sector now collects around £400 million annually in precept income, and invests around £2 billion annually in local communities. This is clearly a very significant amount of money for which local councils and councillors are responsible for spending and investing for the benefit of their communities.

“Local council funds are of course public money, much of which is raised through a precept or tax on local electors, therefore it is the responsibility of all councillors to understand and be pro-active guardians of council funds, ensuring their council complies with the various legislation and government codes, spending the money in accordance with the needs and aspirations of their local community.

“The government has recently enacted various legislation which applies to all local councils regardless of size, and produced transparency codes relating to local council finances, assets and meetings. An example of the relatively new requirements of the transparency code for smaller councils is that local councils with under £25,000 annual turnover are now required to publish various financial and other information on a website and to be much more open and transparent so that local electors have access to all relevant information.

“I trust that you find the guide useful in gaining greater understanding of the financial responsibilities of local councils and councillors and further developing your role as a good councillor.”

View The Good Councillor’s guide to finance and transparency

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