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Stealth cut to councils slammed

by southgloslibdems on 14 December, 2015

Government has been slammed for secret cuts to Towns and Parishes across the country. Liberal Democrat leader in South Gloucestershire, Councillor Ruth Davis, raised the issue at South Glos council’s powerful Policy and Resources committee at lunchtime today (14th December).

Town and Parish councils across the country raise their money through a ‘precept’ on every house. This is then spent on local services – everything from cutting the grass verges and putting up hanging baskets, to running youth services and sports facilities. But changes to the government’s Council Tax benefit scheme have cut down the amount they can raise.

Ruth explained: “The old system helped people pay their council tax if they needed help. Now, it’s complicated maths that reduces the ‘base’ of houses counted at the district level. We set the base for South Gloucestershire today. The consequence of the new calculation is that we’ve got over 6,000 houses outside the council tax scheme, so Towns and Parishes are unjustly having to raise their precept on the ones left in, or they can’t raise the same funds as they used to.

“It’s ridiculous – the houses are the houses, they’re physically there, and the councils shouldn’t have to pretend they’re not. We need a sensible solution from government, which sorts it out so they’ve got the right grant funding and precept base. At the moment, there’s a stealth cut to the towns and parishes, which provide vital local services, and are paying for it with an arm tied behind their backs.”

Cllr Mike Drew a member of the National Association of Local Council’s ruling body said, “NALC explained to government how the effect their changes to the Council Tax system would impact town & parish council but the government has not changed the legislation.”

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