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21.09.16

‘High take-up’ expected for four-year council funding offer

The four-year local government funding settlement designed to give local authorities greater financial certainty is expected to receive a high take up, according to the consultation into the proposals.

The four-year settlement packages were announced by Greg Clark, the then communities and local government secretary, last year after pressure from councils.

The DCLG has now opened a consultation into the proposals, but said that, barring exceptional circumstances, it will confirm the structure of the four-year offer “soon after” the deadline for councils to apply on 14 October.

The consultation document said: “We expect the take up for this offer to be high as it gives councils an excellent opportunity to increase the level of certainty they have regarding their financial position for the rest of this Parliament.”

In the arrangements for 2017-18 funding proposed in the consultation, £105m from the Better Care Fund will be distributed to councils. The LGA has urged the Department of Health to bring forward the full amount from the end of the decade to help address the shortfall in social care funding.

The DCLG also proposed expanding referendum principles on the social care precept to the larger parish councils.

The 2015 Spending Review introduced a 2% precept councils can raise on council tax specifically for social care. If councils wish to raise a precept above 2%, they must hold a local referendum.

The consultation pointed out that parish councils are raising increasingly large amounts of council tax. In 2016-17, Band D council tax levels increased by an average of 6.1%, compared to 3.3% the previous year. It therefore argued that if parish councils wish to raise the precept above 2%, they should be required to hold a referendum.

In addition, the consultation said that more funding in 2017-18 may have to be transferred to mayoral combined authorities, although this must be done with the consent of all the local authorities involved.

The DCLG is now considering whether the transfer should be done by grant, business rates or council tax.

The consultation is open until 28 October. To take part, click here.

(Image c. Joe Giddens)

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