10.12.21 – respond and change.

We are told our views are valued and our input important – has austerity meant that local authorities can’t afford to listen to us though?

November marked a decade since the Localism Act 2011. Why is this important?
The Localism Act 2011 decided that more powers would be given to local authorities.
Protections and exploitations for some groups continued to be enshrined in law while others were
at the mercy of local authority decision making.

The Localism Act 2011 led to a greater use of Community Infrastructure Levy (sometimes called CIL or apparently ‘the levy’) and austerity led to a greater dependancy on ‘the levy’. Government guidance states that the Community Infrastructure Levy “is a charge which can be levied by local authorities on new development in their area. It is an important tool for local authorities to use to help them deliver the infrastructure needed to support development in their area.

Whilst many developers are experts at swerving the levy, local authorities that have had their central government funds cut by a reportedly 60% must rely on the potential levy to contribute to their infrastructure especially as it grows as developments are built. Could this be why properties that seem so wrong for our communities are allowed? and why objectors shouting through consultation channels are ignored? Community groups may see CIL as an oppertunity to deliver vital services and projects. Does CIL contribute to wider infrastructure or just the additional need the developments create?

Another way that local authorities receive an income is through their council tax payments. As not everyone within a local authority area is able or liable to pay the same amount of local council tax there are support schemes, exemptions and reductions to council taxes. Council tax support schemes are set by local authorities, it was a concern when we heard that Croydon Council were trying to make significant changes to their support scheme in the next financial year.

As law centres we provide 1:1 legal advice and respond to policy consultations that we feel cause the need for legal advice.

This week we responded to Croydon Council’s Council Tax Support consultation.

Croydon Council in the opening statement to the consultation said: “Since 2010 the council’s funding from central government has been cut by 81%, that’s £96m less a year.” As law centres we are concerned that funding decisions often hit our neighbours under the most financial pressure. Read our response below. We hope the consultation is genuine and the concerns raised by the community explaining why this approach is not right will lead to amendments in the proposals.