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Government publishes council thresholds for emergency assistance

The Government has issued guidance notes setting out the terms under which it will make emergency funding available to councils under the Bellwin scheme.

The scheme is usually used in response to bad weather that causes threats to life and property ‘beyond all previous local experience’. It provides grant money to reimburse councils that spend money on immediate actions to safeguard life or property or to prevent suffering or severe inconvenience in its area or among its inhabitants, or money spent as a result of the incident(s) specified in the scheme which involved the destruction of or danger to life or property.

This could cover everything from setting up emergency shelters, to removing dangerous felled trees, evacuating people from dangerous structures, supplying food, or the legal and administrative costs of dealing with the emergency.

An individual council that spends more than 0.2% of its calculated annual budget on works reported to DCLG as eligible for grant are covered, with the department then paying the grant at a rate of 85% of eligible expenditure above the threshold.

The Government advises councils to report all incidents, “even if spending is not likely to exceed the threshold”. It advises: “In the event of a later scheme taking total spending for the year above the threshold, the earlier spending would not be counted towards the threshold unless the incident was reported at the time.”

It is only in “exceptional circumstances” that claims against capital expenditure will be allowed.

The full list of local authorities’ 2013-14 revenue budgets, and their thresholds for emergency assistance, is available here, and a claim form can be found here.

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