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Javid holds off on parish precept referendum plan

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The government has backed down on a proposal to force parish councils to hold a referendum on any plan to increase their council tax precept by more than 2%.

The plan – which only came out two months ago – had been criticised as a “centralist sledgehammer to crack a nut” by the National Association of Local Councils, which had pointed out that parish spending made up a mere 0.06% of total public expenditure.

Addressing MPs today, communities secretary Sajid Javid said he understood the “practical considerations of scale” that led to some local councils say they could not afford the costs of such polls.

Mr Javid said: “We will defer our proposals this year, while keeping the level of precepts set by town and parish councils under close review.”

He had previously pointed out that last year parish precepts rose by an average of 6.1%.

Nalc chairman Sue Baxter thanked the Mr Javid for listening to parishes’ concerns.

She continued: “I would urge councils to continue to be fiscally responsible and I am keen work with the government on ways to increase transparency and engagement with residents.”

Nalc had previously given the example of Alnwick Town Council in Northumberland which believed a referendum would cost it £10,000 to run – the equivalent of a 2% rise on its £500,000 precept.

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