Friday, 11 March 2016 00:00

Sell assets to fund services - minister

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Sell assets to fund services - minister

From 1 April, local authorities will be able to spend any revenues generated from selling surplus assets to fund the costs of improvements to things like housing and children's services.

Ministers say the new rules – which run for a three-year period - will encourage councils to sell assets and invest the proceeds and make their services more efficient.

Communities minister Marcus Jones said: The devolution revolution and historic four-year local government finance settlement means that councils can now plan budgets with security.

"These new rules will further incentivise local authorities to plan out the best financial future.

They will be able to sell off their surplus assets in order to make additional resources available and make efficiencies to improve services that really matter to local people.

By the end of this decade, councils will be funded from revenues they raise locally, rather than from central government grants.

The government says flexibility for councils to use revenues from surplus assets to invest in projects that will save money in the future builds on that.

It says the move also gives councils the flexibility to decide how best to use their income.

Changes to the rules for use of 'capital receipts' were announced by chancellor George Osborne in the government's 2015 Autumn Statement and spending review.

Capital receipts could be used to improve shared back office facilities, including restructuring and administration work, with other councils.

The government says they could also be used to improve public facing services which straddle more than one body, like children's services or trading standards.

The guidance says councils should develop a dedicated strategy document alongside or as part of their annual budget to ensure capital receipts are spent responsibly.

As a minimum, strategies should list each project that plans to use revenues from capital receipts to improve and state details of the expected savings or service transformation.

From 2017 to 2018 strategies will also be required to review whether planned savings outlined in previous years are being achieved.

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