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Parishes 'short-changed by £9m'

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Parish councils have been “short-changed” by about £9m because districts and top-tier authorities have not passed council tax support funding to them, the national group representing parish and town councils has claimed.

The National Association of Local Councils is to discuss the issue at its annual general meeting on Wednesday.

NALC’s analysis of figures from the Department for Communities & Local Government, published today, showed parishes had received just £31m of a £40m government fund that, according to NALC, was “specifically earmarked for parish and town councils”.

The funding subsidises parishes for the loss of tax receipts from residents entitled to council tax support.

NALC chair Ken Browse said: “To say I am disappointed at these figures would be an understatement – I’m gobsmacked. For communities to be short-changed to the tune of £9m is simply unacceptable.”

Last week local government minister Kris Hopkins said he would write to the 31 councils in particular that intended to pass none of this cash to their parishes.

In a statement he said: “I applaud the can-do councils who are collaborating with parishes by passing down the money due so they can continue to deliver a range of vital services for local people including running leisure centres, maintaining public spaces, parks and play areas and providing support for the elderly.

“The rest of this money should also be passed down and I expect billing authorities and parish and town councils to make sure this happens.”

Councillors from billing authorities have claimed the funding could not be passed on in full because it was not separately identified in their funding settlements.

In February, then-local government minister Brandon Lewis told council leaders they must “justify to their council tax payer” any decisions to withhold council tax support funding from parish and town councils.

At the time, Sevenoaks DC leader Peter Fleming (Con) told LGC that “despite ministers saying districts had the parishes’ money they singularly failed to identify the amount”.

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