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Rishi Sunak: A response was provided to the Hon Member for Oxford East to Question UIN 121771 on 30 January 2018.
Rishi Sunak: Due to the ongoing nature of the situation, there are no plans to publish risk assessments.
Rishi Sunak: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. [Laughter.] I am sorry—Mr Deputy Speaker.
Rishi Sunak: The Government consulted last year on a proposal to give local authorities operating joint committees, and combined authorities, but not councils as a whole, the freedom to hold formal meetings using video conferencing facilities. We will respond in due course.
Rishi Sunak: Ministers and officials at the Department have regular and ongoing contact with the Local Government Association about issues facing the sector as a whole, as well as challenges facing individual authorities.
Rishi Sunak: The three proposals for merging district councils, which the Department has been considering over the last 12 months, have been assessed as delivering annual savings ranging from £0.8 to £3.1 million with pay back periods for covering one off transition costs from 1 to 3 years.
Rishi Sunak: Our policy is to consider against the criteria the Secretary of State announced on 7 November 2017, any proposal for merging district councils when requested. It is for the councils making such a proposal to decide how to demonstrate the level of local support for it.
Housing, Communities and Local Government: Business rate retention.
Witnesses: Rishi Sunak MP, Minister for Local Government, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Rishi Sunak: The Department continues to work in partnership with the Local Government Association to closely monitor the situation. We remain in close contact with the relevant councils, and have confidence that authorities will continue to manage the situation and ensure that public services continue to be delivered with minimal disruption.
Rishi Sunak: That work is still underway and I will update the House when that work has concluded. The government remains committed to the transparency agenda and in ensuring that local authorities are accountable to citizens.
Rishi Sunak: My Department has frequent discussions with local authorities on a wide range of issues which may include discussions about unitary authority status.
Rishi Sunak: Wolverhampton City Council will have available £876.7 million in Core Spending Power between 2016/17 to 2019/20. Information on Wolverhampton’s Revenue Support Grant funding can be found on line at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-authority-re venue-expenditure-and-financing.
Rishi Sunak: The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, together with the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016, provide powers for the Secretary of State, subject to Parliamentary approval, to implement, by secondary legislation proposals for unitarisation made by one or more councils in the area.
Rishi Sunak: I am placing in the Library of the House copies of all the representations which the Secretary of State has received from local authorities in Dorset on local government reorganisation since 7 November 2017.
Rishi Sunak: Detailed revenue financing data from all local authorities in England are published each year on the Department's website at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-authority-revenue-ex penditure-and-financing
Rishi Sunak: Central government does not collate this information. Local government workforce matters are devolved and it is for councils as independent employers to make decisions on staff disciplinary. This information will be held locally.
Rishi Sunak: The further steps taken to secure local consent involved both East Dorset District Council and Purbeck District Council withdrawing their opposition to the Dorset proposal.
Rishi Sunak: Council tax decisions are a matter for local authorities. However, we continue to ensure that council tax-payers can veto excessive increases via a local referendum. We expect council tax to remain lower in real terms in 2018-19 than it was in 2010-11.
Rishi Sunak: The information to which the Secretary of State had regarded when making his decision on the Dorset unitary proposal included financial estimates from the work of independent professional firms indicating that savings of some £28 million per year could be made. Information on costs and benefits is available on www.futuredorset.co.uk.
Rishi Sunak: The position, including reasons, of Bournemouth and Poole Borough Councils in relation to the inclusion of Christchurch Borough in a new unitary authority was set out in their representations of 5 and 4 January 2018 respectively. Further to the answer Question UIN 129890 on 1 March 2018, I am placing these representations in the Library of the House.