Magazine article Public Finance

Capped Authorities Ready to Fight Their Corner

Magazine article Public Finance

Capped Authorities Ready to Fight Their Corner

Article excerpt

Local authorities facing the prospect of council tax capping are gearing up to argue their case to ministers.

On March 27, local government minister John Healey announced that one council and seven police authorities had been 'designated' for capping. He gave them 21 days to submit their arguments to the government.

The capping criteria this year have been based not only on a council tax increase of more than 5%, but also a budget requirement increase in excess of 5%.

The worst offender was Lincolnshire Police Authority, which was planning a 78.9% increase in the precept across the county to help fund a 29% budget increase. Lincolnshire has long complained that it is underfunded, and last year received a one-off grant of £3.4m to help balance its books.

Chair Angela Crowe said: 'Lincolnshire has been lobbying the government for many years for a better deal for the force. The funding formula disadvantages the county in a number of ways, but predominantly because of its geography and demography.

'Obviously, we are disappointed at the government announcement but not wholly surprised.

'We are confident of the strength of our case.'

All seven police authorities are required to submit their accounts to the inspector of constabulary, who will report to the Home Office in advance of a meeting between authority representatives, Healey and policing minister Tony McNulty.

Ian Perkin, treasurer of Surrey Police Authority, which is proposing a 9.7% precept increase and 6% budget increase, told Public Finance that it was 'very disappointed' to have been designated. …

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