William Eichler 24 October 2018

Councils sitting on £443m of infrastructure funds

Local authorities in England and Wales are sitting on £443m that should be invested in local infrastructure, a freedom of information request has revealed.

FOIs sent out by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) show that two fifths (40%) of the receipts from a levy on property developers meant for local infrastructure improvements remains unspent by councils.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was introduced in 2010 to help local authorities meet the impact of property developments in their areas. The revenue raised enables them to, for example, build transport links or new schools.

However, ACE have found that despite raising £1.1bn using this levy, councils are sitting on £443m rather than investing in infrastructure improvements.

The research also shows that across the board, take-up of the levy remains poor, with only 43% of councils in England and Wales (148 out of 348) choosing to implement it.

‘While councils are deciding not to implement the levy, or sitting on the funds raised, local infrastructure is bearing the brunt of increased strain whenever new homes or retail developments are green-lit,’ said ACE chief executive Hannah Vickers.

‘This means more cars on our local roads, more pupils in our crowded schools and longer waiting lists at the GP. Given the current financial demands on councils this is surprising state of affairs.

‘It’s clear that the original intention of the levy as a means of fairly raising money for supporting infrastructure is failing. The upcoming Budget is an opportunity for the Government to address this imbalance and put in place a system which is simple and transparent. At the moment the system is failing old and new residents alike.’

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