We note that the consultation states that the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement will be published in December 2019. We would urge the Government to publish the provisional settlement as soon as possible after 12 December and no later than Parliament rising for the Christmas recess.
- As the LGA said when it was announced, the 2019 Spending Round has provided councils with much of the funding certainty and stability they need for 2020/21. We look forward to working with the Government to ensure that the 2020 Spending Review builds on this Spending Round by ensuring sustainable long-term funding for local services.
- We note that the consultation states that the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement will be published in December 2019. We would urge the Government to publish the provisional settlement as soon as possible after 12 December and no later than Parliament rising for the Christmas recess.
- The increase in government grant funding for social care recognises our view that the full burden of the increasing costs of these vital services should not have to be met by council tax payers. We welcome the consultation on the distribution of the Social Care Grant including the publication of indicative allocations. We will not take a position on the specific proposals for distribution of the grant.
- It is helpful that the Government has clarified its intention to introduce further business rates retention and the Fair Funding Review in April 2021. This will allow time for the remaining decisions over the design of the reforms to be made by the Government including consultation with local authorities. The Government should commit to removing the impact of appeals on local authorities as part of the reforms.
- To enable authorities to effectively plan for the changes, councils need exemplifications of what the reforms mean for their financial position as soon as possible. Appropriate transition mechanisms will also need to be put in place to avoid unsustainable shocks to any one local authority. This includes ensuring that no council sees their funding reduce.
- The LGA has consistently argued against the principle of council tax referenda for any local authority. Referendums on council tax are an unnecessary and costly burden. Council tax should be a local decision and councils should be held accountable through the normal mechanism of the ballot box. If the Government continues with referenda principles, consideration should be given to a 3 per cent threshold as in previous years, as opposed to a 2 per cent threshold as proposed. We agree that districts should have the extra flexibility of a £5 increase.
- Those authorities affected by ‘negative RSG’ will welcome the Government’s proposal to cancel the tariff/top-up adjustment in the 2020/21 settlement, meaning the ‘negative RSG’ will be paid for from central government resources.
- We note that the Government is proposing to retain the top-slice of Revenue Support Grant to fund New Homes Bonus in 2020/21 at £900 million and is minded to make a new round of allocations for 2020/21. The LGA’s position has always been that the New Homes Bonus should be funded from outside the settlement. Some member councils welcome the continuation of the Bonus in 2020/21 although they will be concerned at the lack of commitment to legacy funding.