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Local Government Act 2003

Section 40 and Schedule 2: Local government finance reports: Wales

78.The National Assembly for Wales gave a commitment in its policy statement ‘Freedom and Responsibility in Local Government’ (March 2001) to continuously look for ways to improve the timetable according to which information regarding the final revenue settlement for local government is published.

79.Currently, the earliest date which can be achieved for the publication of the Local Government Finance Report in Wales is early January with National Assembly plenary debate in mid January. A key factor in this is the availability of information from the Home Office which is not available in provisional form from England until early December. Even with this timetable, final information as to the funding of police authorities is usually not available until late January and therefore an amending report has to be prepared. This is less than satisfactory for both principal councils and precepting authorities in Wales.

80.Section 40 and Schedule 2 allow separate determinations to be made so that the report for principal authorities, specified bodies and precepting bodies (other than police authorities) in Wales can be produced in mid-December and a single final report for police authorities in Wales can be produced at the end of January. This will achieve the Welsh Assembly policy objective for principal councils and provide greater certainty and stability for police authorities.

81.Section 40 and Schedule 2 operate by inserting a new Chapter 3 (revenue support grant: Wales) into Part 5 (grants) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. They also amend Part 3 of Schedule 8 to that Act, which provides for the distribution of non-domestic rates to be dealt with in local government finance reports. They need to be read with the amendments made by paragraphs 5, 12 to 17 and 22 of Schedule 7 to the Act. In particular, those amendments divide the existing provisions of Part 5 of the 1988 Act into Chapters, with the existing provisions about revenue support grant and local government finance reports (sections 78 to 84C) becoming a Chapter 2 that is to apply to England only. The new Chapter 3 makes provision for Wales that, except for differences introduced at the time of devolution and the new power to make two local government finance reports for a year, is substantially the same as the existing provisions that have become Chapter 2.

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