Wealden District Council

Parish and Town Council Precept 2013/14 FAQs

Why has the setting of parish and town precepts changed?

The Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base)(England) Regulations 2012 have just come into force. These regulations will ensure that new Local Council Tax Support Schemes, to be implemented under the Local Government Finance Act 2012, can be fully reflected in the Council Tax Base for all authorities including parish and town councils as precepting authorities.

The Government's preferred approach to funding local precepting authorities (parish councils) in relation to Local Council Tax Support Schemes is through a voluntary arrangement whereby billing authorities (Wealden District Council) and local precepting authorities (parish and town councils in the district) agree the amount of funding, allocated initially to billing authorities, to be passed down to local precepting authorities.

Why are we having to do this so late in the day?

The Government's announcement in relation to Council Tax Support (made on 26 November) was not expected by billing authorities as it had been generally anticipated that DCLG would leave town and parish Council Tax Bases unchanged.

What is the timetable for setting the precept?

26 November 2012

The Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) (England) Regulations 2012 came into force.

26 November 2012 onwards

Town and parish councils continue work on their budgets but we advise them not to set a precept at this stage until Wealden District Council can advise you in the light of the Local Government Finance Settlement which is due on 19th December. This is where the Government tells Wealden District Council how much Government Grant they will get for the next year. Some of you may already have been advised to set a provisional precept only for the present.

30 November 2012

The Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) (England) Regulations 2012 come into force.

3 December 2012

Wealden District Council, as the billing authority, begins Council Tax Base calculations to assess the impact on town and parish councils. Wealden District Council is engaging with the Wealden District Association of Local Councils (WDALC) to propose a way forward for distributing government funds for Council Tax Support to town and parish councils.

After 19 December 2012

Wealden District Council will be working to assess levels of funding that could be passed down to town and parish councils. The government has provisionally said there is £423,000 to give to parish and town councils. We will work with this figure until the government tells us differently in the Local Government Finance Settlement. Unfortunately the Finance Settlement is not expected until 19 December so we cannot tell you your grant until after this date so that you can set your precept.

In the latter half of December 2012

Precept forms will be sent out with a target return date of 25 January 2013.

1 February 2013

Absolute deadline to allow Wealden District Council to complete calculations and prepare agenda documents.

20 February 2013

Wealden District Council meets to set the Council Tax as billing authority.

What are the factors that need to be applied in calculating the parish/town council precept?

The government in the past has always provided 100% to support the amount Wealden District Council has to pay in Council Tax Benefit. This year that is £9.8 million. However, for the next financial year, when the system changes to Council Tax Support, this will be 10% less than in previous years. This reduction will be partly offset by the changes to Council Tax Discounts (e.g. on second homes where the reduction has been removed) but most towns and parishes will find there is a shortfall in their funding overall.

The funding provided by the Government for Council Tax Support next year will be 10% less than Wealden District Council currently receives so you should expect there to be a shortfall. The new arrangements also mean that the provision of Council Tax Support will affect the Council Tax Base of the precepting authorities including town and parish councils. This will partly be offset by changes to Council Tax Discounts Wealden District Council is proposing, but most towns and parishes will find there is a shortfall in their funding, even after the government grant is distributed. Those parish and town councils who are in this situation will need to decide whether to make savings or to increase their council tax.

How will the process be co-ordinated?

Wealden District Council will be working with WDALC on this issue as a representative body of all the town and parish councils in the district. We will contact all town and parish chairmen and town and parish clerks when we have information to pass down. We would appreciate it if you would wait for regular updates to be sent rather than contacting the Council. If you do wish to make contact this should be via the Corporate Policy Team.