New proposals may see public votes to increase parish council precepts

New proposals may see parish and town councils forced to hold public ballots if they wish to increase their precepts by more than 2%.

The Government is currently carrying out a Technical Consultation on its proposed Local Government Finance Settlement for 2017/18. This is of interest to many of our members as it proposes extending the current requirement on local authorities to hold a referendum should they wish to increase Council Tax by more than 2% to larger town and parish councils who propose a similar increase in their Council Tax precepts. The consultation also leaves open the possibility of introducing a referendum requirement in such circumstances to all parish and town councils, not just those which meet certain criteria.

Other proposals in the Settlement are aimed at continuing the Government's already-announced reforms to Local Government Finance, such as increasing the amount of Business Rates retained locally; encouraging more Councils to publish plans to save money in return for long-term funding agreements; continuing the Adult Social Care precept to enable local councils to fund their responsibilities in this area; and phase out more central Government grants in return for giving some local authorities more responsibilties.

In total, the Government's consultation paper on the proposed Settlement asks eleven questions on subjects including what grants could be included in the multi-year settlement offer to Council; the extension of referendum requirements to more local authorities including town and parish councils; and the methodology used to calculate central government funding for local councils.

RAY recommends that any parish and town councils that have not already done so read and respond to this consultation. The deadline to do so is 5pm on Friday 28 October.

Local Government Finance Settlement 2017/18 Technical Consultation.