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20 October 2014
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    Local Authorities
    The Basics | More Information | Web Links
    How is local government funded?

    Local government annually will work out how much money it plans to spend. Local government receives its money in a number of different ways. Central government provides different sums of money, for specific areas of local government. Then the local authority decides on the council tax rate.


    How does local government spend the money?

    The list includes:-

    Education
    Social services
    Housing
    Health
    Public libraries
    Arts and culture
    Traffic and transport
    Refuse collection and recycling
    Fire services
    Planning
    Environmental Health
    Parks, open spaces, and countryside including footpaths
    Town centre management
    Trading standards
    Regeneration


    Education

    All the councils except the District Councils have Local Education Authorities (LEAs) who have to provide education services. There are 149 LEAs in England. Usually there are between 50 to 75 councillors on an authority.

    The LEAs are responsible for providing education in primary and secondary schools, for early year's education, the youth service, adult education and for other services relating to children of school age.

    It needs to ensure that the necessary support is there for each individual child in terms of individual needs, access regarding admission to schools, access and transport to schools, the performance of schools and providing education for those not in school and strategically managing schools.

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    Social services

    The social services departments look after the health and welfare of the local community whatever the age or needs of the person. It depends on the requirements of the individual as to how long social services provide support and whether that support is provided at home or in the community. There are those who may need long term support while others need it for a short period of time to help them through a difficult time such as illness.

    With an increasing older population, the need for social services is likely to increase while it's estimated that one in four people in Britain will experience a mental health problem at some time in their lives.

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    Housing

    Local councils provide help and advice to people who are homeless or about to be made homeless. They may help to prevent a person being made homeless or advise on how to find somewhere else to live. Councils also provide accommodation for people depending on their personal circumstances and have a responsibility for seeing that social housing reaches a certain standard.

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    Health

    Research shows that people's living conditions and economic circumstances affect their health and this impacts on the work of the local authorities. All departments such as health, social services, housing and education have to work together to try to improve conditions. The Government has passed legislation to ensure that local governments work to introduce strategies to improve this situation.

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    Public libraries

    There are approximately 3,500 public libraries and in 2001 over 60% of the adult population were members of a library. The library authorities have to produce a plan for how they will run their library services which not only promote literacy but also provide lifelong learning, information especially through the internet, creativity and relaxation. The library authorities are overseen by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS).

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    Arts and culture

    The DCMS has encouraged all local authorities to introduce a Local Cultural Strategy in order to promote the cultural well-being of the area. Many local authorities are trying to provide more cultural and leisure facilities as these contribute to community development and regeneration in terms of improving health, education and employment as well as cutting crime. These activities help develop a person's outlook and confidence as well as building communities and links between communities.

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    Traffic and transport

    The transport infrastructure is vital to the economic and physical health of the country. Local authorities have to develop local transport plans which improve local transport as well as address issues such as safety, road congestion, the environment and the promotion and development of alternatives to car travel.

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    Refuse collecting and recycling

    It's not just the wheely bins that have to be emptied but also all the litter bins in the streets and parks and the rubbish from offices, shops and restaurants. Streets have to be cleaned regularly. Only 26% of our waste is recycled and/or composted. The majority of waste is thrown into landfill sites, holes in the ground, or burnt. The volume of waste is growing along with the cost of disposing of it.

    The government has produced a National Waste Strategy which includes targets that local authorities are expected to hit in terms of the amount of waste being recycled. The authorities have to devise ways of working with their communities of residents and businesses to encourage greater recycling and to educate people as to the effect of not recycling.

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    Fire services

    The fire authority has to provide free fire services as well as advice and guidance on fire prevention. It also has to make sure that members of fire brigades are adequately trained and equipped. Amongst its duties, fire brigades fight fires; work at the scenes of accidents and crashes, rescue people trapped in lifts. As local authorities are also responsible for licensing buildings, the fire service also provides fire prevention advice.

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    Planning

    The look, feel and environmental quality of our towns and places where we live and work is mainly due to the planning system. The Government has produced a number of guidance papers about planning which the local authorities have to take into account when they draw up their development plans. Anyone who wants to develop an area or building has to seek planning permission by sending their plans to the local authority are planning committee. Permission can take some time with it finally being given after changes have been made to the plans and compromises have been reached.

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    Environmental Health

    Environmental health covers areas such as food safety, housing standards, environmental protection and health and safety. It includes jobs such as inspecting places which stock or prepare food, and investigating complaints about food poisoning outbreaks, educating the public about the effects of smoking, safety in the home and healthy eating, checking that health and safety standards are met in places of work and the home, and environmental protection such as pest control and waste management.

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    Parks, open spaces and the countryside

    Councils often own country parks and areas of forest, woodland and similar open spaces.

    Many councils manage farms and parkland on the edge of urban areas. Countryside management issues look after the protection of the environment and the efficient use of natural resources.

    Parks were originally developed in urban areas to improve public health and the quality of life. Protecting and conserving parks is a significant responsibility for many councils.

    Many housing estates have parks within their boundaries. Councils may seek to protect these areas and avoid creating extra housing or unnecessary extra facilities if the consequences harm the environment.

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    Town centre management

    Local authorities work together with businesses, retailers, leisure operators, the police, land owners, and others to develop their town centres so that they are places which are safe and easy to access and where people want to live and work as a community where the facilities meet its needs.

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    Trading standards

    The trading standards officers check that trading standards are being maintained and prevent consumer problems.

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    Regeneration

    Areas of deprivation often suffer from low educational attainment, high morbidity and poor housing conditions, as well as low economic activity. Local government is in the front line of those trying to cope with these problems. Bad housing and homelessness, poor health and social conditions, and high unemployment have always been the concern of local as well as central government. A local authority can contribute directly to urban regeneration as a planning authority, as a provider of infrastructure and services, and as the major deliverer of education and training.

    • getting the design and quality of the urban fabric right
    • enabling all towns and cities to create and share prosperity
    • providing the quality services people need
    • Equipping people to participate in developing their communities.

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