To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what steps he plans to take to ensure that billing authorities pass on in full to local councils council tax support funding which his Department earmarked for those councils.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what steps he plans to take to ensure that parish councils will be fully compensated for effects arising from the implementation of localised council tax support schemes.
My Department has provided £3.3 billion to local authorities in respect of local council tax support schemes in both 2013-14 and 2014-15 and the same amount will be provided in 2015-16.
For the first year of local council tax support only, the Government set out an indicative amount of £40,450,000 attributable to parish and town councils in England. Latest statistics show that 95 per cent of this indicative amount was passed down in 2013-14.
As schemes are designed and implemented by billing authorities, it is not for Government to calculate on an ongoing basis the appropriate level of funding parishes required. However I have previously written to the small number of authorities which in 2014-15 had no intention to pass on any of the funding to express concern. I also wrote to all billing authorities on 19 February 2015 reminding them of the Government’s clear expectation that they should pass down funding to eligible parishes in 2015-16 and have placed a copy of this letter in the Library of the House.
Every sector of local government should be doing their bit to keep council tax down for hard-working people. Although the referendum principle does not apply to town and parish councils in 2015-16, we continue to keep this option under active consideration. The Government has given new rights for taxpayers to approve or veto excessive council tax rises set by principal local authorities. If necessary, we are prepared to extend this to town and parish councils in the future if there is evidence of unreasonable hikes being imposed on taxpayers without their consent.