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BILL PAVES THE WAY FOR GREATER FREEDOM FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES

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Local government and finance minister Sue Essex has welcomed the granting of royal assent to the Local Government B...
Local government and finance minister Sue Essex has welcomed the granting of royal assent to the Local Government Bill.

The provisions of the Billwill apply to England and Wales and the assembly was closely consulted in the drafting of the Bill and during its consideration in parliament.

The minister said 'This Act enables the assembly to introduce items of secondary legislation in a number of different areas. The provisions will give greater freedom to local authorities, particularly regarding the management of their finances, provided that they operate within sound financial systems.

'This should make it easier for local authorities to raise capital for important projects of benefit to the community.

'The assembly will consider a commencement order in November, which will introduce the provisions for Wales over which the assembly has discretion. There will then follow a process by which the assembly will be able to consider different items of subordinate legislation flowing from the Act over the next year.

'I very much welcome the introduction of this legislation. It will assist the assembly and local government to work together in the spirit of partnership.'

Notes

The Local Government Act 2003 contains many provisions which relate to local government finance and other matters. It covers, in particular, capital finance, financial administration, grants, revenue matters, business improvement districts, non-domestic rates, council tax, housing revenue, charging and trading and various miscellaneous matters including the 2004 elections and the repeal of the prohibition of promoting homosexuality.

The functions of the National Assembly

The Act gives the National Assembly powers in relation to:

Control of borrowing and credit

The use of capital receipts

Security for money borrowed

Issue of guidance on capital finance

Treatment of capital expenditure

Operation of local auth ority companies

Local authority accounting practice

Specification of minimum reserves

Determination of best value grants

Emergency financial assistance to fire authorities

Loans by Public Works Loan Commissioners

Payments to reduce local authority debts

Administration and finance of business improvement districts

Non-domestic rates, including relief to small businesses

Rating of meters

Local retention of non-domestic rates

Introduction of statutory revaluation cycle for council tax

Power to change number of valuation bands

Power to make fire authorities precepting authorities

Reform of housing revenue accounts

Charging for discretionary services

Regulation of trading powers

Matters relating to staff transfers

Changing the date of the 2004 local elections

Inspections of registered social landlords

Use of income from fixed penalties

Commencement powers

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