Headlines: October 30th, 2003

Councils need an extra 17 million pounds if they are to meet their current emergency planning workload. A survey by the Local Government Association, which looked at work in district councils, shows that they spend just under 4 million pounds on emergency planning each year in spite of the fact they do not receive any Civil Defence grant from central government.The study follows an earlier LGA survey of top tier authorities in England and Wales. That revealed that those councils were spending more than 32 million pounds on emergency planning which is 13 million more than the grant they receive. Taking district council spending into account, it means local government spends a total of 36 million pounds on emergency planning each year – 17 million more than authorities get in grants for the work.

Three-quarters of the district councils that responded to the LGA survey said they had a specific budget for emergency planning. The average budget identified per authority is 16,700 pounds.

Councillor Ann Stribley, who chairs the Association’s public protection executive, said that as well as providing extra money for emergency planning local councils had received no extra money to reflect the increased expectations from central government and the public following the September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre, even though other authorities such as the police and fire services had received additional funding. The proposed Civil Contingencies Bill would place a number of new duties on all local authorities, she said, and it was essential that local authorities were given adequate funds to carry out these new duties.