Mark Whitehead 27 October 2014

'Short changed' parishes demand action over government funding

Short changed parishes demand action over government funding image

Parish councils are demanding urgent action to ensure that local authorities pass on £9m of government funding they say is earmarked for them.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) says at least 30 local authorities have defied instructions to pass on their full share of £40m to provide services including running leisure centres, maintaining public spaces, parks and play areas and providing support for the elderly.

It says data from the Department for Communities and Local Government on the total and individual amount of funding passed on to parish councils by billing authorities – district, unitary and metropolitan councils – shows parishes have been short-changed.

Last week local government minister Kris Hopkins said he would write to 31 councils who he said intend to pass none of the cash to their parishes, telling them he expects the money to be handed over.

But Cllr Ken Browse, chairman of the NALC which represents 9,000 parish and town councils in England, said this was not enough.

The NALC Annual General Meeting next week will discuss an emergency motion urging the government to take stronger action over the shortfall.

Cllr Browse said: 'To say I am disappointed at these figures would be an understatement – I’m gobsmacked. For communities to be short-changed to the tune of £9m is simply unacceptable.'

He added: 'With all due respect to the local government minister, a letter from him telling billing authorities to pass money on just isn’t good enough, it hasn’t worked before and won’t work in the future.

'We need tougher action with government identifying council tax support funding in the 2015/16 financial settlement coupled with the introduction of statutory guidance. Or government could fund our councils directly.'

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In competition with the PWLB

Christian Wall considers what alternative funding channels are available to local authorities beyond the Public Works Loan Board.
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