Friday, 19 March 2010

When Is An 8% Increase Not An 8% Increase?


On Wednesday evening at the Nettleham Parish Council meeting held at the Mulsanne Park Pavillion a member of the public enquired as to how the comments made by Cllr. Giles McNeill, on behalf of the Parish Council, in the most recent winter edition of Nettleham News that:
"The Parish Council met towards the end of October and provisionally agreed to freeze the level of tax charged through West Lindsey District Council to local residents, known as the precept."
Could be reconciled with Council Tax bills issued by West Lindsey District Council that show an increase in the Parish Precept of 8% for the average Band D property.

The article continued and talked about the reduction in two subsidies, one for the operating costs of the burial ground, the other known as the 'per capita subsidy' which has traditionally been £2 per elector.

Under the Local Government Act 1972 s.150 the Parish Council raises most of its income through a separate chargeable levy on the parish, known as the precept, issued to the council responsible for collection of local government taxes, locally that falls to West Lindsey District Council. A parish council is a local precepting authority and may issue a precept each financial year.

The member of the public was correct that thier Council Tax bill from West Lindsey District Council shows an 8% increase in the level of Parish Precept charged as a component of the Council Tax to local residents. £74.01 in 2010/11 which is an increase on the previous year from £68.52 in 2009/10.

In the current financial year, 2009/10, the parish council has received £101,243 as precept income. This comprised of £90,358 as precept collected through the Council Tax, £4,967 as burial ground subsidy, £100 as the automatic base per capita subsidy - all parish and town councils currently recieve £100 - together with £5,818 being £2 per elector within the parish.

The figure quoted in the booklet, which accompanied Council Tax bills, for 2010/11 shows a precept of £98,222 collected through the Council Tax, but excludes £100 as the automatic base per capita subsidy together with £2,921 being £1 per elector within the parish, which is collected through the council tax, but found from West Lindsey's part of the Council Tax. The total being a precept requirement of Nettleham Parish Council of £101,243 the identical amount as the current year.

The increase shown on Council Tax bills is therefore not an increase in the amount of money precepted by Nettleham Parish Council but in fact is caused because revenue that used to be collected through the District Council's portion is now being accounted for through the Parish Council's portion of the Council Tax.

Cllr. McNeill has said:
"I apologise if this was not clear; the term 'freeze' applied to the level of precept income received and not the level of taxation charged to residents."
District and Parish Councillor Cllr. Alf Frith, Liberal Democrat (Nettleham Ward) noted at the meeting that the per capita subsidy had been introduced many years ago to ameliorate the fact that Gainsborough did not have it's own Town Council, which changed in 1993 when Gainsborough Town Council was established. Cllr. Frith also noted that at that time the per capita subsidy had come to the end of it's natural life and should have finished.

A senior official at West Lindsey District Council has indicated that:
"I know of no other authority in the country that has a per capita subsidy like this."

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