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How can GPs access local infrastructure funding?

Policy experts from the Local Government Association outline what the ‘community infrastructure levy’ is and what mechanisms there are to use it to set up GP services

What is the ‘Community Infrastructure Levy’ and what is it for?

A Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) can be charged on developments in a local authority’s area with the money raised being used to pay for the provision, improvement, replacement, operation or maintenance of infrastructure that is needed to support development. Further information on it is available in the government’s planning practice guidance notes

The process for setting and operating a CIL is set in legislation, specifically the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 (as amended). 

What funding is potentially available to GPs?

It is a local authority’s choice as to whether it implements a CIL and not all authorities in England have chosen to do so. As part of the government’s current proposals on reforms to the planning system they have included proposals on changes to CIL. These are set out in the consultation document ‘Supporting housing delivery through developer contributions’ and within this document there is a map which shows which authorities have adopted a CIL, those authorities that are in the process of developing a CIL and those that do not have a CIL. The map is correct as of March 2018.

Research was also published alongside the proposed reforms on the use of developer contributions in England. This looks at the extent and value of both agreed planning obligations (also known as section 106 agreements) and CIL levied in England in 2016 to 2017. What is important to note is that both CIL and policies that are subject to Section 106 obligations are set locally. The amount available for spend on infrastructure will therefore be dependent upon how much has been collected, and for what purposes in each local authority. 

CIL is still relatively new for most authorities and because it is only paid when development is commenced, and is only payable on developments that have gained planning permission after the date a CIL charging schedule has been adopted and brought in to force, there is an inevitable time lag between bringing a CIL in to place and raising sufficient funds to spend. This is important when considering why infrastructure providers may not yet have benefited from CIL funding. For most authorities it may take two to three years before sufficient funds are accrued. Every CIL charging authority is required to publish in the December of each year what they have received and spent in the previous financial year. This information should be published on their websites. 

How might GPs access funding from it?

The governance arrangements for how a local authority decides to spend their CIL is not set out in legislation or guidance. It is therefore ultimately up to the local authority on the mechanisms that they put in place to do this. Whilst experience across the country on the governance of spend is still limited it is clear that different authorities are putting different processes in place and therefore the best advice would be for GPs to work with CCGs in liaising with local authorities to ensure that it is clear what the demands on health infrastructure are. 

The only legal requirement is that: -          

 - 70–80% of receipts must be spent on the provision, improvement, replacement, operation or maintenance of infrastructure that is needed to support development in the local authorities area. This can be spent outside of a local authorities area providing that it supports development within it.

 - 5% is spent on the administration costs of operating a CIL; and

 - 15–25% should be spent on the ‘neighbourhood portion’. This means passing this portion of receipts to Parish, Town or Community councils from development that has taken place in their area. For other areas it means working with the community to agree how the receipts should be spent. The amount fluctuates depending on whether a neighbourhood plan is in place. Where there is no neighbourhood plan the amount is 15% (but capped at 100 British pounds per council tax paying dwelling per annum) and where there is a neighbourhood plan this rises to 25% uncapped. 

It should be noted that the neighbourhood portion must also be spent on the provision, improvement, replacement, operation or maintenance of infrastructure that is needed to support development in the local authorities area. Or, anything else that is required to support development in the area. 

What other funding is available for this purpose?

There may be opportunities through specific development proposals and the use of planning obligations if it can be demonstrated that the requirement is necessary to meet the impact of that specific development and it meets the regulatory tests for the use of planning obligations set out in regulation 122 of the CIL regulations 2010 (as amended).

Source: Local Government Association

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