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The system of councils in England is something that most of us have grown up with. We look to the council if there’s an issue with the roads, or with our rubbish collection, and every three or four years we might review who we want to represent us on the local governing body. But how much do you really know about the councils who work for your interests and are you getting the most out of the services that they offer? The average council tax in England is now £1,700 a year which is a sizeable chunk of the household budget – and a large enough sum for some people to need to borrow to pay for some of it. If you don’t feel you are getting value for money what can you do about it?
There are two different types of councils across most of England: county councils on one level and district, borough or city councils on another.
The purpose of having a system of councils is to be able to organise and structure our communities. They also provide transparency to official decision making and offer a way for anyone to have a say in how their local town or county is run, either by electing a councillor or becoming one. In theory, councils are the perfect way to ensure that there is an infrastructure in place to deliver services and support the local community.
County councils provide a wide range of services to people who live within defined county lines. For example, your county council will deal with:
Local councils carry out a wide range of functions available to anyone who lives within the catchment area for the council. So, you could contact your local council if you want to:
Issues with councils, local or county, often arise when people feel that they are not receiving adequate services in return for annual council tax payments. The problem is that many councils today are chronically underfunded but, nevertheless, cuts to services, such as social care and libraries, are tough to take at the same time as council tax demands have increased. In fact, council tax is set to rise across 95% of councils this year according to the 2018 State of Local Government Finance research. Despite this, around 80% of councils now fear for their financial stability. A study by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) think tank and The Municipal Journal found that children’s services and social care put the most pressure on council budgets. But is there anything you can do if you feel like your council doesn’t do enough?
There are a number of ways to have your say when it comes to what your local council does.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read about Amanda Gillam
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