Halwill Parish Council and your 2016/17 Council Tax Bill
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Halwill Parish Council and your 2016/17 Council Tax Bill

Parish Council Precept

You may remember that last year there was considerable confusion over the percentage change in the small proportion of your Council Tax bill that was attributable to Halwill Parish Council. This confusion was a result of a change in the law governing how Parish Councils are funded.

Local authorities, including County Councils, District Councils and Parish Councils, are funded by you, the ratepayer. Every winter, Halwill Parish Council, like all parish councils, holds a public Meeting where it decides its budget for the year. The Parish Council then tells Torridge District Council how much money it requires. This is known as the 'parish precept'.

In simple terms, Torridge then looks at how much we require and divides it by the number of houses in our parish. This amount is added to everyone's Council Tax bill. In a perfect world the Parish Council's budget is paid for entirely by local ratepayers: however, there is a slight complication. The amount added to the council tax bill is the precept divided by the total number of houses; not the precept divided by the number of houses that pay council tax. Because not every house in the parish pays full council tax, the result is a shortfall in the Parish Council's income. In the past this shortfall—resulting from people on benefits, single occupancy homes and second/empty homes which pay reduced (or no) council tax—has been made up by central Government.

Unfortunately, in an initiative called the 'Local Government Finance Act 2012', the Government has changed the way it contributes funding. Although the payments to make up the shortfall are still given to the District Council, the District Council no longer has any obligation to pass them on to Parish Councils. The result is that Halwill Parish Council has no way of predicting what effect its precept requirements will have on your Council Tax Bill.

At its meeting in December, 2016, Halwill Parish Council voted to raise the precept by 2.3%. We now know that Torridge District Council has decided to half the grant it gives us to subsidise Council Tax, as a result of this the average household bill will increase by 4.8%.