At this time of year a number of Local Government organisations make a point of reminding Councils, including Parish Councils, that they are obliged to begin their budgeting process in order to present their precept requirements.
NALC, the National Association of Local Councils, provide the following pertinent advice:
- The authority needs to prepare and approve a budget in a timely manner before setting a precept prior to the commencement of the financial year. It needs to monitor actual performance against its budget during the year, taking corrective action where necessary. A financial appraisal needs to be undertaken before the authority commences any significant project or enters into any long term commitments.
- The budget has three main purposes:
- it results in the authority setting the precept for the year.
- subject to the authorities Financial Regulations, it gives the Clerk overall authority to make spending commitments in accordance with the plans approved by members; and
- it provides a basis for monitoring progress during the year by comparing actual spending against planned spending.
- The key stages in the budgeting process are:
- decide the form and level of detail of the budget;
- review the current year budget and spending;
- determine the cost of spending plans;
- assess levels of income;
- bring together spending and income plans;
- provide for contingencies and consider the need for reserves;
- approve the budget;
- confirm the precept or rates and special levies; and
- review progress against the budget regularly throughout the year.
What Whittington needs
In order for our PC to decide how much money they need next year they have to determine how they are going to spend their income.
Income: In addition to the precept the PC normally receive a further £250.00 in shooting and grazing rights. This provides in the order of £4,245, at the 2016-17 level of precept. In fact our PC has recently received an additional £450.00 from the Parish Champion, which I assume is committed to the acquisition of a SpID, although the Council has not yet authorised expenditure in this connection.
Expenditure: Each year the PC have traditionally made certain donations. Typical these donations have amounted to something in the order of £390.00, to the WI, British Legion, Wagtail Playgroup & Toddlers, NW Air Ambulance and Wagtail.
In addition there are cost which occur simply to run the PC such as Clerks Salary, NI and expenses, Insurance and the cost of Internal Audit. These costs amount to about £1,880.
A further series of costs relate to maintaining the Village Hall Strimmer, and any maintenance expenditure such as painting sight railings, village benches and so on. This of course is a variable sum, depending on what the PC has budgeted for.
Expenditure Parishioners ask for: I may well be wrong in saying that the only suggestions that the PC has actually funded has been the request for a donation to B4RN a couple of years or so ago, and pressure from Gerald Hodgson through his Wagtail articles about the state of the village benches. But maybe the PC are currently considering spending some money on an SpID, although they have made a commitment not to do so until they receive the support of Whittington Villagers (bearing in mind that an SpID would be of no benefit to the remainder of the Parish).
The way forward: At this time I believe that the PC should be canvassing the views of Parishioners in order that they are cognisant of the views of their electorate, as to where expenditure is desirable.
Please, oh please, use this Blog to let your views be known, otherwise the Village will continue to stagnate.