The LGA has issued a set of supplementary consultation questions on the government’s funding plans for the next two years.
An alternative set of questions to those issued by the Department for Communities & Local Government at the end of last month was sent to treasurers and finance directors last week.
LGC has learnt an online survey was prepared after finance directors raised concerns about the limited scope of the government’s own consultation on a range of changes to local government funding in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
In a note to finance directors, the LGA’s finance team said it had “heard considerable concern from the sector” about the government’s technical consultation.
Amongst the survey questions, the LGA has asked finance directors whether the “new burdens money for social care should be genuine new money and not taken out of local government resources?”
As previously reported by LGC, figures in the government’s consultation paper led to the discovery that the chancellor’s spending round announcement of £335m for councils preparing to implement the Dilnot reforms would come from within the existing spending totals for councils.
However, the consultation paper does not explicitly mention the top-slice of funding and none of its six questions directly address this particular detail of the funding settlement.
The survey also gives an indication of some alternative proposals which could be included in the LGA’s own response to the government’s consultation which closes in October.
The LGA has previously expressed concern about the way the government has rolled council tax support grant into the general grant pot and, in a sign it may continue pressing this case, it has asked treasurers whether this merging of funds will mean a reduction in individual councils’ support schemes in 2015-16.
Treasurers were also asked for their views on whether central government should fund 100% of pre-2013 business rate appeal costs rather than requiring councils to contribute half.
Local government figures have previously objected to the government’s approach in the past arguing that the business rates were paid before local authorities were allowed to retain 50% of business rate growth.
In another question the LGA asks whether the government should rethink the way cuts are distributed between councils and whether this should take into account the fact that some councils “are more dependent upon government grant than others”.
However, an LGA source told LGC that nothing was set in stone. “Some ideas that we have heard might not command 100% support in local government, and others I suspect there will be a lot more support for. We will have to see what support we get,” they said.