NALC update - from Jonathan Owen (Chief Executive)
Budget announcement on public toilets
On Monday, the chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond MP, answered NALC's call to end the toilet tax by announcing in his Budget 2018 that public toilets will receive new mandatory business rates relief. This is amazing news given the extensive campaign by NALC in recent years and the last 12 months in particular – working with members of parliament, including Scott Mann MP. It also follows that the NALC chairman Cllr Sue Baxter's meeting with the Treasury in which business rate reform was among the key asks. As this measure needs new legislation NALC will be keeping up the pressure on the government to ensure this commitment is introduced as soon as possible.
Annual Conference 2018
The Budget announcement was a brilliant start to this week's Annual Conference which saw 400 delegates, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors gathered at the MK Dons Stadium in Milton Keynes. This was the biggest event in many years and was a real success. Here are just a few highlights.
- It was standing room only for the speech by the local government minister Rishi Sunak MP who praised "parish power", paid tribute to local (parish and town) councils and the "people who are dedicated to improving people's lives every single day through their hard work and dedication", talked about policy areas the government had listened to including General Data Protection Regulation, parish polls reform, VAT on village halls and community governance reviews. LCR subscribers can also read more in his interview in the new Autumn edition.
- The shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, Andrew Gwynne MP, also signalled his strong support for the sector, beginning "by thanking NALC for championing the voice of local [council] councillors on the national stage, and the 100,000 local councillors you represent who day-in and day-out deliver for their local communities". Other issues covered included devolution, the standards regime, planning and the creation of new local councils. You can read more about his views in the Summer edition of LCR.
- The workshop programme included the launch of the Diversity Commission's report, Diversity in local councils in 2018, on its Councillor Census Survey and a new Digital Mapping Toolkit (which you can find in the development tools area of the NALC website, login required).
- And huge congratulations to everyone whose brilliant work was recognised at the Star Council Awards dinner and presentations.
Timing of local government finance settlement
In another campaign win over the last week, NALC are pleased the government has listened to the repeated call to help local councils plan their budgets by providing more certainty through earlier timings of the local government finance settlement. Mr Sunak has announced set dates for the provisional and final settlement of 5 December and 31 January. As you know the technical consultation over the summer set out no plans to extend council tax referendums to local councils in line with the three-year deal announced in January.
With local government structures and unitarisation a recurring theme at the Annual Conference, you will be interested to hear that last night the Buckinghamshire County Council unitary bid got the go-ahead in a written statement from James Brokenshire MP, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government.
Posted: Fri, 02 Nov 2018 16:48 by Alison Robinson