The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has secured a multi-million pound package of funding from Government to help smaller parish councils meet new audit and transparency rules.
As one of several important decisions this week affecting town and parish councils, the Government has confirmed a £4.7m Transparency Fund to support small parish councils and other smaller authorities to become web-enabled and compliant with the Transparency Code for Smaller Authorities. This funding programme will be delivered through NALC and is planned to be available from April 2015 for a three-year period, delivered on a county basis by county associations of local councils and targeting local needs.
Support, training and guidance will be made available to assist parish councils, internal drainage boards, charter trustees and port health authorities who spend less than £25,000 a year to move to online publishing of financial and other information, ensuring these bodies are transparent and accountable to their local communities and up-to-speed in the digital age.
The Transparency Code has been issued by the Government to support their policy of placing more power into citizens’ hands to increase democratic accountability and is mandatory from 1 April 2015, requiring the online publication of key spending and governance information on the occasions specified in the Code.
Other decisions and announcements made this week by Government have included a consultation on extending the Local Government Ombudsman to some parish councils and a change in the rules including funding support to help communities set up new parish councils.
Chairman of NALC, Cllr Ken Browse said: “This investment will help our smaller councils – the backbone of local democracy and community action in England – meet the challenges of the new Transparency Code for Smaller Authorities and in turn reboot them into an ever increasing world of online information and providing important information on how they are making local decisions to improve their area. We’ll be working closely with a range of partners to deliver this fund and much needed support, not least our important network of county associations of local councils, who will provide a crucial link in working with smaller councils to help them become compliant with the new transparency rules.”