Parish Councils: Bureaucracy
Communities and Local Government
Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to reduce red tape and bureaucracy facing parish councils such as Bayston Hill Parish Council.
Bob Neill (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government; Bromley and Chislehurst, Conservative)
The Department for Communities and Local Government are taking a number of steps to reduce bureaucratic hurdles for parish councils.
We plan to promote a legislative reform order to repeal section 150(5) of the Local Government Act 1972. This provision, which requires two members to sign every cheque issued by a parish council, puts barriers in the way of these councils adopting modern electronic methods of payment. We aim to publish draft proposals for the legislative reform order to repeal section 150(5) in the next few weeks, and to implement the reform later this year.
We are reviewing the audit arrangements for smaller local public bodies, following the 2011 consultation on the future of local audit and the Government's response to it, which was published in-January. We intend to publish proposals for smaller focal public bodies alongside the draft Local Audit Bill this spring.
Furthermore the new general power of competence in the Localism Act 2011 will enable an eligible parish council to do anything which an individual can do, rather than being constrained to act only within the limits of specific powers. It will free them to act innovatively without being found by the courts to have acted ultra vires. The power will also enable such parish councils, for the first time, to do things for a commercial purpose. This power will be available from April, subject to parliamentary process, to parish councils if they meet certain requirements.