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Solace: Finance settlement delay spells legal threat to councils

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Councils may be unable to meet their legal obligations over budget consultations because the government left details of the 2017-18 settlement so late, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Mangers has warned.

In its response to the settlement consultation Solace said: “The late issue of the settlement, so close to the Christmas break, is extremely problematic.

“Local authorities, who have a duty to consult with local people over changes to local service delivery, will have little chance to do so in a way that meets legislative and case law expectations if they are to set a budget in the required timeframe and meet all legal obligations e.g. sending out council tax invoices.”

Solace also joined county and district councils in objecting to the diversion of New Homes Bonus money in to social care.

It noted that when the bonus started in 2011 it was expressly stated by ministers the “grant has been designed to be stable and predictable”, and that councils could spend it as they chose.

“That this scheme is now being used to prop up an ailing national social care system seems entirely contrary to the stated intentions of the NHB,” Solace said.

The increase to 3% in the council tax precept for social care would give “short term relief to a few local authorities [but] relying on a regressive local taxation system is not a long term solution to tackling the long term sustainability challenge our health and social care system faces”.

Solace said the precept was based on flawed logic since councils with the least ability to generate additional tax income were likely to face the highest demand resulting from greater levels of deprivation.

 

 

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