Councils are at odds over local funding
Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date online: 11 January 2017
A PARISH council has accused Oldham Council of taking a "soft option" by proposing to reduce a grant which benefits local communities.
Pam Bailey, clerk to Saddleworth Parish Council, has written to Marcus Jones MP, minister for local government, after receiving a letter from Oldham saying the grant would be cut on a phased basis.
Her letter says: "The parish council believes Oldham Council has taken this action without any regard to the submission we made and the proposal has been made because it is a relatively 'soft option' for them which will only impact on a small percentage of the borough's population.
"Saddleworth, having a very high proportion of housing in the top council tax bands, generates more council tax income than any other part of the borough.
"The proposed action by Oldham Council is clearly a case of them wanting to have their cake and eat it without showing any regard to the residents of the parish who are paying the majority of the council tax.
"I am writing to ask you to intervene in this issue and, like your predecessor, to insist that the grant remains at the current level to support the valuable work which Saddleworth Parish Council undertakes for its residents, businesses and visitors."
Under the proposal, the original grant of £39,490 would be reduced by £6,000 (15 per cent) in the next budget and finally cut to £13,490 by 2019/20.
In February 2015, Kris Hopkins MP, then minister for local government, wrote to the leaders of all billing authorities asking them to identify the amount of local council tax support funding attributable to town and parish councils in their area, ensuring an appropriate amount was passed on.
In August last year, Saddleworth Parish Council received a letter from Oldham Council, saying that consideration was being given to the withdrawal of this funding as part of its budget savings target. But parish councillors voiced strong objections.
Shaw and Crompton Parish Council will also be affected by the grant reduction plans.
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