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Parish and Town Councils: Coronavirus

Question for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

UIN HL3067, tabled on 22 April 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions have been held with the National Association of Local Councils about (1) the role parish and town councils and parish meetings are playing to support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) the impact of the pandemic on the operation of parish and town councils and parish meetings including (a) local audit timescales, (b) holding meetings, and (c) the services they provide; and (3) the financial impact of the pandemic on the finances of parish and town councils and parish meetings including (a) additional expenditure, (b) lost revenue income, and (c) borrowing repayments to the Public Works Loan Board.

Answered on

6 May 2020

We are very grateful to local authorities for all that they are doing to support their communities and the most vulnerable. Parish councils have played an important role in many areas and I thank them for their work.

We regularly engage with the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) about a wide range of issues and will continue to do so. We have sought to grant additional flexibilities to local government at the current time, to recognise the role they are playing in the response to Covid-19. For example, parish councils are included in the regulations enabling council meetings to be held remotely, including remote access by members of the public, although parish meetings are not. We are continuing to explore how else we may support parish councils to assist their local communities in these unprecedented times.

However, the government does not fund parish councils; they are funded through a precept on the council tax paid by residents of the parish. There are no plans to change this. If parish and town councils are under financial pressure caused by Covid-19, I would encourage them to engage with the relevant principal authority on the £3.2bn of additional government funding allocated to councils to support the response.