Home Business Insights & Advice How do local councils work and what are their responsibilities?

How do local councils work and what are their responsibilities?

by John Saunders
25th May 22 3:36 pm

Local councils aim to take care of your area of living, meaning supporting public health, local roads, local environmental issues, and other community services. In the UK, the local government is split into three layers of authority (county, district and parish).

This chain of responsibilities makes everything work from the top to the bottom to ensure proper services. For that to happen, the public needs to pay a certain amount of taxes. But before we get into that, let’s talk about the government and local council’s responsibilities.

Local government structure

The local councils consist of councillors voted in the local elections by the public. The permanent council staff (also called officers) are the ones who support councillors. Every four years, the structure changes, but in each area, its components vary. Some regions operate under two tires (county and district), but some have only a one-tier structure.

A local councillor has the following duties:

  • Representing the council in external events
  • Participating in council meetings and raise matters
  • Making decisions in the interest of the people
  • Determining the annual tax
  • Deciding on the services provided

Services provided

The local authorities are obliged to provide certain services to the people, for example:

  • Education. Local authorities have to provide schools for their community along with the maintenance and repair of the buildings, supporting school trips and managing health and safety risks.
  • Highways. The council has to manage construction health risks, road safety for all driving participants and prevention of accidents.
  • Waste and recycling. That means collecting, sorting, disposal and energy waste. Kerbside is one of the services provided that help in collecting garbage from households.
  • Social care. Councils are to provide healthcare facilities and be aware and act when it comes to workplace violence and safety.
  • Amenity management. The local authorities take care of parks, play areas, and other outdoor facilities.
  • Sometimes the authorities act as social housing landlords. In that case, they need to ensure the maintenance of the properties and appliances they provide (gas safety, water heating systems).
  • Emergency planning for cases like a flood or a terrorist attack
  • Economic development encourages tourism and helps local businesses.

Council complaints

Even if the council has so many responsibilities, it doesn’t mean mistakes don’t happen. Only in the past year ,51,286 public liability cases  were reported for injuries caused by the local council’s negligence. Sometimes this authority fails to oversee the health and safety within the public area. In that case, you can file a personal injury claim  and get the compensation that will cover the costs of any physical or psychological damages.

How can you make a claim against your local council? The first step is to gather any possible evidence to support your case. Suppose you were involved in a road traffic accident caused by potholes or poorly managed road works you can ask for CCTV or dashcam footage because most councils provide camera security. Then, any photos or videos that you could take or witnesses testimony at the accident place are useful, along with your medical receipts to prove you were harmed. The compensation you’ll get depends on the nature and severity of your injuries. For example, if you had pelvis and hip bone injuries, you can get from £73,580 to £122,860 based on the intensity of the damage.

If you doubt that you’ll make justice, you can opt for making a No Win No Fee claim. You’ll benefit from not paying any fees to your solicitor if they fail to win your claim. And if they win and your case is successful, you’ll only pay a small amount of money, also called the success fee. This cost will be agreed upon before working together on the case.

Tax collecting

The government works based on collecting taxes from the properties that are not used for business purposes, meaning households. These assessments are based on the size, layout, location and change in your household use. Your property band also leads to a smaller or bigger taxation amount, depending on if the internal structure has been altered (increase or decrease in size).

Your tax band can also be affected by:

  • Splitting your property
  • Working from home
  • Changes in your local area (new roads are being built)

All people over 18 years must pay taxes, but some can have discounts or be exempted if they are:

  • Full-time students
  • Diplomats
  • Live-in careers
  • On certain apprenticeships (not paid more than £195 a week)
  • Disabled (or someone in their house is)

Why are local councils important?

It’s important to have a structural organisation of the cities and counties because otherwise the world couldn’t operate differently. You’re paying taxes to fund the local government (almost half the budget comes from the people from things like parking permits and local business rates income) to help them provide the necessary services. The other half of the funding comes from grants from the central government. The expenses of the local council consist of:

  • Constructing or improving schools, houses, libraries
  • Buying land for development, roads and playing fields
  • Vehicles, plants and machinery (including street lighting and road signs)

The areas that were the most invested in through the years are highways and transport, housing, education and central services. On the other hand, public health, social care and trading are less prioritised.

Local councils help the areas they work in by:

  • Raising money to spend for the local priorities of the people
  • Accessing grants to support the projects they do
  • Connecting to the areas around
  • Encouraging activities to spread awareness about climate change

Final thoughts

Local governments are an important part of the government structure, even if they have much fewer responsibilities than state and federal authorities. But providing so many services to the people will always be a challenge. Therefore, mistakes are made sometimes. Luckily, you can make yourself justice by filing a claim against them if they breached duties.

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