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Reality Check: How are English councils spending your taxes?

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Most local authorities in England are planning to increase their council tax this year, to pay for local services.Councils in England receive their money from:
council tax
taxes paid by local businesses
grants from central government
rent from social housing
fees and charges (parking for example)
Schools, most of policing budgets and public health are funded by separate pots of money from central government. These are administered by councils, but they don't have much discretion over how they spend them.
Council tax hikes planned 'across England'
But council tax makes up the biggest chunk of money councils have to pay for everything else, from libraries to bin collection to caring for the elderly.The rest comes from business rates - a tax that businesses have to pay on their properties - and a few small grants from central government, mainly the Revenue Support Grant, which is not ring-fenced.
This grant comes from the 50% of their business rates that councils have to return to the Treasury, to be distributed according to need.This week, local government's financial settlement for the year ahead was announced - but to see how the money is actually spent, we have to look at this year's figures.In 2017-18, English councils' core budgets totalled about
Adult social care (?15.6bn)
Children's social care (?8bn)
Environmental services including waste collection, recycling and street maintenance, cremation and burials, crime reduction and community safety (?5bn)
Transport and highways (?4.2bn)
Central services including courts (?3bn)
Cultural services like libraries (?2.2bn)
Fire services (?2.1bn)
Some elements of housing (?1.5bn)
Planning and development (?1.1bn)
Council taxes pay for everything from libraries to burials
The Revenue Support Grant - the money from central government which councils can spend how they see fit - has fallen dramatically over the past few years.As councils receive less money from central government, they rely more on the money they are able to raise through council taxes - but this varies around the country. Areas with less well off populations have fewer people paying council tax and generally lower tax rates, meaning they are less able to raise money this way.
Can councils raise more?
In 2015, government announced councils would soon be able to keep 100% of their business rates - something which is currently being piloted.This is welcomed by some who see it as a way of giving councils more freedom and a stronger incentive to grow their local economy.But critics say this would be a regressive move, since poorer areas are both less able to raise money through business rates and often have higher needs, making delivering services to their local populations more expensive. For example, areas with poorer populations will have more elderly people who require council-funded social care.In 2015, many councils were also given the power to levy a 2% council tax precept, ring-fenced to be spent on adult social care, every year for three years without having to go to a vote. The next year this was adjusted so councils could raise tax by an extra 3% for two years, meaning they could bring the extra money in more quickly.
Reality Check
Social housing
Social care
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