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Setting the rate

When determining their budget arrangements, councils make a distinction between hypothecated funding and non-hypothecated funding. Consideration of all funding in general is referred to as gross revenue streams, while net revenue streams refers to funding from only non-hypothecated sources.

Historically, central government retained the right to cap an increase in Council Tax, if it deemed the council to be increasing it too severely.[13] Under the Cameron-Clegg coalition, this was changed. Councils can raise the level of council tax as they wish, but must hold a local referendum on the matter, if they wish to raise it above a certain threshold set by central government, currently 3%.[14]

Billing authorities

Council Tax is collected by the principal council that has the functions of a district-level authority. It is identified in legislation as a bil

When determining their budget arrangements, councils make a distinction between hypothecated funding and non-hypothecated funding. Consideration of all funding in general is referred to as gross revenue streams, while net revenue streams refers to funding from only non-hypothecated sources.

Historically, central government retained the right to cap an increase in Council Tax, if it deemed the council to be increasing it too severely.[13] Under the Cameron-Clegg coalition, this was changed. Councils can raise the level of council tax as they wish, but must hold a local referendum on the matter, if they wish to raise it above a certain threshold set by central government, currently 3%.[14]

Billing authorities[13] Under the Cameron-Clegg coalition, this was changed. Councils can raise the level of council tax as they wish, but must hold a local referendum on the matter, if they wish to raise it above a certain threshold set by central government, currently 3%.[14]

Council Tax is collected by the principal council that has the functions of a district-level authority. It is identified in legislation as a billing authority, and was known as a rating authority. There are 314 billing authorities in England that collect council tax and business rates:[15][16][17]

  • 188 non-metropolitan district councils
  • 56 unitary authority councils
  • 36 metropolitan borough councils
  • 32 London borough councils
  • City of London Corporation
  • Council of the Isles of Scilly

Precepting authoritiesprecept. Major precepting authorities such as the Greater London Authority and county councils cover areas that are larger than billing authorities. Local precepting authorities such as parish councils cover areas that are smaller than billing authorities.[16]

The precept shows up as an independent element on official information sent to council tax payers, but the council bill will cover the combined amount (the precepts plus the core council tax). The billing authority collects the whole amount, and then detaches the precept and funnels it to the relevant precepting authority.

Levying bodies

Levying bodies are similar to precepting authorities, but instead of imposing a charge on billing authorities, the amount to

The precept shows up as an independent element on official information sent to council tax payers, but the council bill will cover the combined amount (the precepts plus the core council tax). The billing authority collects the whole amount, and then detaches the precept and funnels it to the relevant precepting authority.

Levying bodies are similar to precepting authorities, but instead of imposing a charge on billing authorities, the amount to be deducted is decided by negotiation. The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is an example of a levying body. Voluntary joint arrangements, such as waste authorities are also in this category.

Aggregate External Finance

Sizes of counci

Sizes of council areas vary widely. The most populous district in England is Birmingham (a metropolitan borough) with 1,073,045 people (2011 census), and the least populous non-metropolitan unitary area is Rutland with 37,369.[19] However, these are outliers, and most English unitary authorities have a population in the range of 150,000 to 300,000. The smallest non-unitary district in England is Melton at 51,209 people, and the largest Northampton at 212,069.[19] However, all but 9 non-unitary English districts have fewer than 150,000 people.[citation needed] Responsibility for minor revisions to local government areas falls to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. Revisions are usually undertaken to avoid borders straddling new development, to bring them back into line with a diverted watercourse, or to align them with roads or other features.

Where a district is coterminous with a town, the name is an easy choice to make. In some cases, a district is named after its main town, despite there being other towns in the district. Confusingly, such districts sometimes have city status, and so,

Where a district is coterminous with a town, the name is an easy choice to make. In some cases, a district is named after its main town, despite there being other towns in the district. Confusingly, such districts sometimes have city status, and so, for example, the City of Canterbury contains several towns apart from Canterbury, which have distinct identities. Similarly, the City of Winchester contains a number of large villages and extensive countryside, which is quite distinct from the main settlement of Winchester. They can be named after historic subdivisions (Broxtowe, Spelthorne), rivers (Eden, Arun), a modified or alternative version of their main town's name (Harborough, Wycombe), a combination of main town and geographical feature (Newark and Sherwood) or after a geographical feature in the district (Cotswold, Cannock Chase). A number of districts are named after former religious houses (Kirklees, Vale Royal, Waverley). Purely geographical names can also be used (South Bucks, Suffolk Coastal, North West Leicestershire). In a handful of cases entirely new names have been devised, examples being Castle Point, Thamesdown (subsequently renamed as Swindon) and Wychavon. Councils have a general power to change the name of the district, and consequently their own name, under section 74 of the Local Government Act 1972. Such a resolution must have two-thirds of the votes at a meeting convened for the purpose.

Councils of counties are called "The X County Council", whereas district councils can be 'district council', 'borough council', or 'city council' depending upon the status of the district. Unitary authorities may be called 'county council',[citation needed] 'borough council', 'city council', 'district council', or sometimes just 'council'. These names do not change the role or authority of the council.

Greater London is further divided into 32 London boroughs, each governed by a London borough council, and the City of London, which is governed by the City of London Corporation. In the London boroughs the legal entity is not the council as elsewhere but the inhabitants incorporated as a legal entity by royal charter (a process abolished elsewhere in England and Wales under the Local Government Act 1972). Thus, a London authority's official legal title is "The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of X" (or "The Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster"). In common speech, however, "The London Borough of X" is used.

Metropolitan counties no longer have county councils, as these were abolished in 1986. They are divided into metropolitan districts whose councils have either the status of city council or metropolitan borough council.

Some districts are royal boroughs, but this does not affect the name of the council.

Local authorities sometimes provide services on a joint basis with other authorities, through bodies known as joint boards. Joint boards are not directly elected but are made up of councillors appointed from the authorities which are covered by the service. Typically, joint boards are created to avoid splitting up certain services when unitary authorities are created, or a county or regional council is abolished. In other cases, if several authorities are considered too small (in terms of either geographic size or population) to run a service effectively by themselves, joint boards are established. Typical services run by joint boards include policing, fire services, public transport and sometimes waste disposal authorities.

In several areas a joint police force is used which covers several counties: for example, the Thames Valley Police (in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) and the West Mercia Police (in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Herefordshire and Worcestershire). In the six metropolitan counties, the metropolitan borough councils also appoint members to joint county-wide passenger transport authorities to oversee public transport, and joint waste disposal authorities, which were created after the county councils were abolished.

Joint boards were used extensively in Greater London when the Greater London Council was abolished, to avoid splitting up some London-wide services. These functions have now been taken over by the Thames Valley Police (in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) and the West Mercia Police (in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Herefordshire and Worcestershire). In the six metropolitan counties, the metropolitan borough councils also appoint members to joint county-wide passenger transport authorities to oversee public transport, and joint waste disposal authorities, which were created after the county councils were abolished.

Joint boards were used extensively in Greater London when the Greater London Council was abolished, to avoid splitting up some London-wide services. These functions have now been taken over by the Greater London Authority. Similar arrangements exist in Berkshire, where the county council has been abolished. If a joint body is legally required to exist, it is known as a joint board. However, local authorities sometimes create joint bodies voluntarily and these are known as joint committees.[20]

The City of London covers a square mile (2.6 km²) in the heart of London. It is governed by the City of London Corporation, which has a unique structure. The Corporation has been broadly untouched by local government reforms and democratisation. It has its own ancient system of 25 wards, as well as its own police service. The business vote was abolished for other parts of the country in 1969, but due to the low resident population of the City this was thought impractical. In fact, the business vote was recently[when?] extended in the City to cover more companies.

Further reforms to local government

In 2017, it was proposed that two unitary authorities be formed to cover the ceremonial county of Dorset. One of the authorities would consist of the existing unitary authorities of Bournemouth, Dorset. One of the authorities would consist of the existing unitary authorities of Bournemouth, Poole and the non-metropolitan district of Christchurch, the other would be composed of the remainder of the county.[31] In November 2017, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid stated that he was "minded to approve the proposals" and a final decision to implement the two unitary authority model was confirmed in February 2018. Statutory instruments for the creation of two unitary authorities, to be named Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council and Dorset Council, have been made and shadow authorities for the new council areas were formed. The Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and Dorset councils entered existence on 1 April 2019.

BuckinghamshireIn March 2018, an independent report commissioned by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, proposed structural changes to local government in Northamptonshire. These changes would see the existing county council and district councils abolished and two new unitary authorities created in their place.[36] One authority would consist of the existing districts of Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire and the other authority would consist of Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough districts. In February 2020, the Northamptonshire (Structural Changes) Order 2020 was enacted, which will as of 1 April 2021 abolish Northamptonshire County Council and the district councils and create two unitary district councils, to be known as 'North Northamptonshire Council' and 'West Northamptonshire Council'.

See also