Finance settlement must help parishes
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is calling for the Government to help local (parish and town) councils through local government finance after a finance settlement statement was made from the Department of Communities and Local Government on Thursday 18 December 2014.
Chair of the NALC, Cllr Ken Browse, responded to today’s Local Government Finance statement from the department of Communities and Local Government: “We called for the Government’s local government finance statement to help and not hinder parish councils and we will continue to make the case for fair funding, as unlike principal councils, parishes do not receive Revenue Support grant, a share of business rates or the council tax freeze grant.
We remain opposed to referendum principles being extended to parishes; such interference by Government would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
I want to work with Government on this issue and persuade them this would be wrong in principle, would undermine local democracy – given we want more people to stand as parish councillors – and would be detrimental to local services.
In fact it would be a hammer blow to the tens of thousands of people trying to make a difference in their area, sending out a clear message from central government that it does not trust locally elected citizens to make decisions. Furthermore it would also damage parish councils' ability to take advantage of new community rights such as saving local assets and neighbourhood planning which has been such a positive development in recent years.
I was disappointed the minister made no mention of council tax support funding arrangements given over 30 principal (county, unitary, district, and borough) councils did not pass on any funding to parishes this year, with more likely to follow suit next year. This is simply wrong and unacceptable and must be addressed.
We remain committed to, and will continue to support, council improvement, including working with the 0.005% of all councils who have received a public interest report. However extending referendums to these 5 out of 9000 parishes would be a disproportionate approach. I look forward to discussing this further with the minister and other parliamentarians over the coming weeks.”
Read a Guide to the Local Government Finance Settlement 2015/16