District Councils’ Network responds to provisional Local Government Finance Settlement

Responding to the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement, Cllr John Fuller OBE, Chairman of the District Councils’ Network, said:

“District councils have been on the frontline fighting coronavirus and leading the humanitarian effort, supporting the most vulnerable, distributing grants to local businesses, getting rough sleepers off the streets and protecting communities.

“The Government has recognised that districts have been hit hard by plummeting income across the pandemic. We are pleased that the income guarantee has been extended into next year, that there is a commitment to underwrite 75 per cent of our business rates and council tax losses, and that the New Homes Bonus payments will continue next year.

“Today’s announcement of an additional £111 million for pressures on district and unitary councils will provide some useful support for delivering some of the critical local services such as housing, leisure and waste collection, and confirmation of the Rural Services Grant is also welcome.
“It remains our view that the services underpinning the social fabric in our places should have further flexibilities to raise the funding to support the leisure, cultural and sporting amenities that will deliver a healthy recovery in our towns and cities. To support this effort, the Government must spread the opportunity for districts to raise a small one off additional precept should they wish to, benefiting from flexibilities similar to county and unitary councils.
“We look forward to discussing these proposals further, and to contributing to the review of the New Homes Bonus. It is critical that places continue to be incentivised to build the homes that drive growth.

“Looking ahead, districts continue to need funding certainty and flexibility to plan and deliver the services that businesses and communities rely on, maintaining the incentives to grow the national economy one local economy at a time.”