Parish Council Budgets

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:


  1. 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.
  2. The budget has three main purposes:
    1. it results in the authority setting the precept for the year.
    2. 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
    3. it provides a basis for monitoring progress during the year by comparing actual spending against planned spending.
  3. The key stages in the budgeting process are:
    1. decide the form and level of detail of the budget;
    2. review the current year budget and spending;
    3. determine the cost of spending plans;
    4. assess levels of income;
    5. bring together spending and income plans;
    6. provide for contingencies and consider the need for reserves;
    7. approve the budget;
    8. confirm the precept or rates and special levies; and
    9. 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.

John Keegan

13 thoughts on “Parish Council Budgets”

  1. I’ve approached the PC twice to ask about bins for dog waste. Each time I’ve been told that they’re too expensive and they can’t afford it. If money is so tight, I assume that there will be no donations this year. I’d much prefer the money that I contribute to be spent on the village, rather than being donated; however worthy the cause. Donations should be a personal choice.

    1. At the May meeting the PC Clerk advised that that Lancaster City Council were prepared to provide a suitable dog faeces collection bin, to mount it, empty it against a schedule and to maintain it, at a one of cost of £350 +VAT (£420 inc VAT).
      At their meeting to approve the 2016-17 precept the PC announced a 10% increase, which would have covered most of this amount. The PC had NO plan on how this money would be spent. Why not such a bin?
      Our house is in Band F. The amount Maureen and I contribute to the Whittington Precept is a total £34.26 in the current financial year. If the PC decided to buy one bin this year and another next then my council tax would increase by £4 for a total of two years. I don’t have a dog but I would be very happy to contribute £8 to bring this matter to a conclusion.

    1. Unfortunately Minute 1352 of the 18 September meeting does not make the commitment that the item on the PC’s website, mentioned above, suggests.

      The PC did not vote to spend any money. They only said that Colin Hall would contact an alternative supplier and that Simon Raistrick has offered to empty a bin if one is purchased.

      They did not say that there are funds remaining in the current year budget, or if they would include the item in next years budget.

      As I don’t walk a dog I don’t know where the problem of dog faeces occur. I do know that the references that I have heard of have involved the churchyard rather than the Long Walk. Indeed at the meeting of the 15 May the PC said that a bin could not be positioned on the Long Walk because. as Chairman Eric Pelter stated “and you wouldn’t be able to have them on the Long Walk because of the space restriction, and it’s private ground anyway”. At that time the alternative location was stated to be Church Street.

      I have a transcription of the words spoken at that meeting if anyone is in doubt.

  2. Dear John
    You’re probably correct on all fronts!

    If the minutes are incorrect then they can corrected before being signed off at the next meeting. I should have spotted the omission when Gill sent them through but no doubt distracted by the euphoria enveloping me on being given the responsibility of ordering, fixing and getting the landowners permission to site said bin on his land
    I’m afraid I can’t comment on what Eric said in May as I wasn’t present but I shall investigate the width of the walk shortly to see if he was correct

    With regard to decisions being made between meetings, yes this happens occasionally rather than waiting several weeks for the next meeting we communicate usually by telephone
    With events often moving so quickly nowadays I’m sure you’ll agree bodies like Parish Council need to react positively hence the good news- the BIN has arrived on my doorstep today- Lord Reay has been informed and I await in anticipation as to whether he will allow a permanent erection
    Sent from my iPad

  3. Very many thanks Colin.

    You, Gillian and I did discuss the need for the Minutes to represent what actually happens. My sympathy goes out to Gillian because Eric allows everyone to talk at once and, unless she takes a digital record of events as I do, there is no way she can produce sensible minutes with Eric in the Chair.

    You where at the May meeting and contributed to the discussion. I can send you a recording of everything you said, if it would help

    However. The key thing is that the September meeting is not Minuted as authorising expenditure. It also seems to be true that, as Eric said, the PC cannot locate equipment on private land even with the landowners consent. Finally. As this was not a budgeted item you could not make a commitment to purchase without Gillian’s consent (not Eric’s).

    John Keegan

  4. Morning John
    You are clearly concerned that the purchase of the dog waste bin has not followed what you regard as correct procedure i.e.
    • Council failed to minute the purchase correctly
    • Council failed to properly authorise the purchase
    • Gillian Hodgson failed to give her consent to the expenditure
    • Contend Council are not able to erect the bin on private land despite landowners consent

    As a result of these concerns I propose to speak to members today and suggest that for the time being the bin is returned to the supplier. That I email Lord Reay and inform him that despite giving us permission yesterday to place the bin on his land that he may want to reconsider his decision. Telephone the two volunteers who kindly offered to help me with the erection this weekend that things will be delayed until advice has been taken and that proper procedures have been followed.

    Please be reassured that Parish Council funds have not been compromised as, to expedite the original purchase quickly, I used my personal credit card with a view to claiming the expenditure at a later date.

    Hopefully as the next Parish Council meeting is in November and that proper procedures are followed along with Lord Reay still being in agreement then I can envisage some movement in December Leave this with me.
    Colin Hall

  5. Having given up on the possibility of having a dog bin, I was delighted that Colin had been so proactive in sourcing an alternative and organising siting and emptying. What a shame that petty bureaucracy has stopped this from happening.

    1. An interesting slant on this issue Jim.
      It just shows the importance of doing things correctly and not going off half cock.
      The following comment from Colin Hall came in an email to me this morning. I trust that Colin’s elegant solution to getting around the core problem appeals to you.

  6. Morning John
    I think I may have the solution to speed things up!
    The bin belongs to me, I paid for it and the landowner has agreed to its erection and suggested its location so I can’t see what’s stopping me sorting it out in the next few days Formalities can be dealt with at our next Council meeting in November I do hope common sense prevails.

    1. That would seem to be a perfect solution Colin.

      At the May meeting Eric did say that the PC couldn’t put a bin on private land, with or without the owners permission. I don’t know whether he was right or wrong, I just assumed that he knew what he was talking about.

      If Eric says that he was mistaken then I see no problem at all with what you propose. I know parishioners would be delighted.

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