December 18th, 2011 |
“if enforced across local government would be an attack on the financial planning of small parish councils.”
Parish councillors may be interested by an article on Daniel Brett’s blog here. He is warning against putting tight controls on parish council budgets:
The government will impose a “tax lock” on all local authority tiers as part of its “radical extension of local democracy”, although Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles will dictate a limit on precept increases. Councils will be forced to hold referenda if they raise their precepts by more than 3.5% – a level deemed “excessive”, although at the current inflation rate would amount to a cut of 1.5% in real terms. The goal is to put public finances on a more stable footing.
There is no plan to introduce the tax lock on town and parish councils in 2012/13, but the government has warned that it may in following years. When a government says it may do something controversial, we can safely assume it wants to do it if it can get away with it.
The move makes a nonsense of the government’s pretence of localism and if enforced across local government would be an attack on the financial planning of small parish councils. While it is important to make sure that the overall council tax does not go out of control in straightened times, for many villages it makes no sense……
Scanning through Uttlesford’s budget books for the past few years, during any financial year as many as a third of parish councils have precept increases of over 3.5%, some in double and triple figures. Often the funds raised are one-off capital costs such as renovating or repairing the village hall or adding play equipment. This is not reckless profligacy but common sense for many villages. Increases have a negligible impact on the overall council tax bill and are often followed by a massive cut in precept in the following year. It is not the way one would run a larger council or a government, but makes sense for small villages…..
Daniel’s right. Many parish councils seldom increase the amount they charge, but when they do need to increase it, it’s often by a large percentage. But even a large increase in the parish charge is small beer compared with the amount that districts and counties collect.