IRRV Newsletter 4th March 2024 to 10th March 2024

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Consultations / Inquiries / Surveys etc.


Addressing the local audit backlog in England: Consultation [England]

The external auditing of local bodies is vital in supporting democratic accountability and providing assurance for local people and their elected representatives. The backlog in the publication of audited accounts of local bodies in England has grown to an unacceptable level.  

This consultation seeks views on amending the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 as part of a package of cross-system measures to clear the backlog and put the system on a sustainable footing.  

The draft statutory instrument covers the core elements of the proposed amendments to the Regulations.  

The Joint Statement, agreed with system partners, provides vital context and explains the cross-system proposals and how the various elements are intended to interact.

The consultation can be found at

Closing date for responses is 7 March 2024.


Consultation on a Fairer Council Tax: Phase 2 [Wales]

The Welsh Government are looking at different ways of bringing the Council Tax system up to date and making it fairer. This includes the potential to introduce new Council Tax bands.

As part of their consultation, they’d like views on:

  • Different approaches for new Council Tax bands.

  • Regular updates to Council Tax in the future.

  • Discounts and exemptions.

  • A more transparent system and a more effective appeals process.

The purpose of the reforms would be to ensure that Council Tax contributions are more fairly spread and reflect the latest information available about economic circumstances. None of the approaches outlined in this consultation represents a revenue-raising exercise.

The and commit to reforming Council Tax to make it fairer and more progressive. It remains the firm intention of both the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru to make progress on the journey to a fairer system in Wales.

A more progressive tax looks to lower the share of tax paid by those who are less able to contribute, making things fairer. This may be difficult to achieve all at once, so we’re asking for your views about the approach we take to make the system fairer. The evidence shows the changes we’re proposing would reduce longstanding wealth inequalities created by an unfair system.

This consultation seeks views on how and when we should make changes to the basic structure of Council Tax in Wales and update the property valuations used.

This consultation provides an update on reviews of these arrangements and proposals for:

  • Modernising the service provided to taxpayers.

  • Taking powers to reform the system of discounts and reductions over time.

  • Committing to retain the one-adult discount and to keep the level of discount at 25%.

  • Changing the treatment of empty properties to remove the obligation on councils to offer a 50% discount on most empty properties (councils will maintain their discretion on caravans and houseboats, on homes where the owner has died and job-related dwellings).

  • Changing the time-limits for exemptions on properties in probate.

  • Amending the language we use, and the system in place, to provide help to those with a ‘severe mental impairment’.

  • Improving the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

The consultation can be found at

Closing date for responses was 6 February 2024.

The Institute’s response can be found at


Consultation on MaPS proposals for the delivery of its debt advice strategy [England]

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is now consulting on its proposals for the delivery of its debt advice strategy.

The consultation sets out MaPS' approach to debt advice up to 2028. It explores how they interpret their remit in relation to debt advice and the role that they could take in working with the wider debt sector on some of the key issues and challenges identified.

The consultation can be found at

Closing date for responses is 3 April 2024.


Land Transaction Tax Special Tax Sites Relief [Wales]

This consultation sought views on the Welsh Government’s proposals to amend the Land Transaction Tax and Anti-avoidance of Devolved Taxes (Wales) Act 2017. The amendments will provide a relief from land transaction tax for qualifying transactions within a designated Welsh special tax site. 

Annex B sets out the draft legislative provisions contained within The Land Transaction Tax (Relief for Special Tax Sites) (Wales) Regulations 2024.

While there is no statutory duty to consult, consulting at this stage respects well established public law principles, as there is likely to be a legitimate expectation that the Welsh Government will consult on this matter. This consultation ran for a period of 8 weeks, which was shorter than the standard consultation period of 12 weeks. Given the technical and area specific nature of the draft legislative provisions, a shorter public consultation exercise was deemed reasonable in the circumstances.

The consultation could be found at

Closing date for responses was 18 February 2024.

Land Transaction Tax Higher Residential Rates: proposals to amend the refund and exception rules [Wales]

The Minister for Finance and Local Government intends to put before the Senedd a proposal to change land transaction tax rules to allow homebuyers, in specified difficult circumstances, extensions to the current 3-year periods. 

The proposal will be put before the Senedd once the responses to this consultation have been considered.

The consultation can be found at

 The closing date for responses is 17 March 2024.


Local Government Finance [Wales] Bill Consultation and Senedd Oral Evidence Session [Wales]

Senedd Cymru’s Local Government and Housing Committee released a consultation scrutinising the Local Government Finance (Wales) Bill.

Specifically, the Bill scrutinises:-

  • The general principles of the Local Government Finance (Wales) Bill and whether there is a need for legislation to deliver the Bill’s stated policy objectives (see the Bill page for further details).

  • Any potential barriers to the implementation of the Bill’s provisions, and whether the Bill and accompanying Explanatory Memorandum and Regulatory Impact Assessment take adequate account of them.

  • Whether there are any unintended consequences arising from the Bill.

  • The Welsh Government’s assessment of the financial and other impacts of the Bill as set out in Part 2 of the Explanatory Memorandum.

  • The appropriateness of the powers in the Bill for Welsh Ministers to make subordinate legislation (as set out in Part 1: Chapter 5 of the Explanatory Memorandum).

  • Matters relating to the competence of the Senedd including compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights.

  • The balance between the information contained on the face of the Bill and what is left to subordinate legislation.

  • Any matter related to the quality of the legislation.

  • Any other matter related to the constitutional or other implications of the Bill.

The consultation can be found at

Closing date for responses was 15 January 2024.

The IRRV’s response can be found at

Matthew Evans (an IRRV Member) presented oral evidence on Thursday, 25 January 2024 on behalf of the Institute before the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff, on the topic of the Local Government Finance (Wales) Bill. A link to the session recording can be found at The session content runs from 41:40 to 1:38:00.

LGA seeks more views on how to improve assurance [England]

The LGA has launched the second phase of its engagement with the sector discussing how the improvement and assurance framework for local government can be improved.

The LGA is seeking the sector’s views on the principles of assurance and accountability, examples of good practice and on revised diagrams showing the elements of the improvement and assurance framework and asking for ideas on how the framework can be improved.

These views will be gathered through meetings with councils at local and regional levels, representatives of relevant professional bodies and other stakeholders until the end of February.

The document can be found at Improvement and assurance framework for local government | Local Government Association.


Business Rates Avoidance and Evasion Consultation: Summary of Responses [England]

The Summary of Responses to the Business Rates Avoidance and Evasion Consultation sets out the views expressed to the government during the consultation and outlines reforms to combat abuse of the system.

The government is extending the Empty Property Relief “reset period”, from six weeks to three months (13 weeks) from 1 April 2024 in England. This will reduce the financial incentive to avoid business rates on empty properties through “box shifting”. The government is also announcing a consultation on a “General Anti-Avoidance Rule” for business rates in England, and committing to improved communications for ratepayers to help combat “rogue” business rates agents.

The summary of responses can be found at

The IRRV’s response to the original consultation can be found at

Consultation on Non-domestic and Domestic Rating measures to support budget sustainability by raising additional revenue [Northern Ireland]

The Department of Finance launched a 14-week consultation on the revenue raising potential associated with the removal of rating measures.

The consultation followed a direction from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP, directing Northern Ireland departments to launch public consultations on measures to support budget sustainability and raise additional revenue.

The Department was seeking views from those who may be directly affected and from the wider body of ratepayers. There were seven proposals for changes to rating measures identified by the Secretary of State:

  • Domestic sector: Early Payment Discount, Landlords Allowance, Maximum Capital Value cap.
  • Non-domestic sector: Non-domestic Vacant Rate relief, Industrial Derating, Freight Transport relief, Halls of Residence exemption.

The consultation can be found at

Closing date for responses was 13 February 2024.

The IRRV’s response can be found at


Invitation to take part in research into real estate market transparency [England]

Those with a professional interest in the real estate market are invited to respond to a survey on real estate market transparency that will inform research currently taking place on this subject. The research is concerned with the perception, definition and based on this, measurement of transparency in real estate markets.

It is being conducted by the University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol and involves the following research partners: International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), IVSC (International Valuation Standards Council), and TEGOVA (The European Group of Valuers’ Associations).

The link to a Survey is at

Deadline for responses 12 March 2024.


Raising the weekly maximum charge for adult non-residential care and support [Wales]

Local authorities have the legal responsibility to provide social care and support to their respective assessed citizens, either within their own home, or in a residential care setting, and have the discretion to charge for those services.

Noting the increasing extreme financial pressures on local authorities, this consultation document seeks views on amending the regulations and code of practice governing local authority charging for social care and support services under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. The consultation specifically seeks views on a proposed increase to the non-residential maximum weekly charge, currently set at £100.

The proposed change would ensure only individuals who have the financial means to pay an increased maximum weekly charge would do so. This would be determined by the usual process, as part of the financial means test carried out by an individual’s local authority. Therefore, not everyone currently paying the maximum weekly amount of £100 would be required to pay an increased amount.

The consultation can be found at

Closing date for responses is 13 May 2024.


Responses to the consultation on the proposals to reform devolved tribunals in Wales [Wales]

In June 2023, the Counsel General and Minister for the constitution published White Paper consultation entitled “a new tribunal system for Wales” seeking comments on proposals to reform devolved tribunals in Wales.

The consultation closed in October, and a summary of responses to that consultation was published on 30 January 2024. There was clear support for reform of the devolved tribunals in Wales and the principle of creating a unified, coherent tribunal system comprising of the First-tier Tribunal for Wales and the Appeal Tribunal for Wales.

A summary of responses can be found at


Consultation on Water and Sewerage Charges [Northern Ireland]

The Department for Infrastructure has launched a consultation today on options for introducing water and sewerage charges.

The consultation, which has had its content approved by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, provides an overview of potential water and sewerage charging revenue-raising options that could be introduced in Northern Ireland, with a focus on creating sustainable public finances.

It sets out and seeks views on the main pathways through which water and sewerage charging could be introduced, how a relief scheme to protect vulnerable people might be developed, and how charging might be billed and collected.

It also asks about three other revenue-raising options:-

  • Charging customers for domestic septic tank desludging.

  • Recovering the cost of roads drainage from all customers.

  • The removal of the domestic allowance for non-domestic customers.

All non-domestic customers in Northern Ireland are charged for water and those who discharge to the public sewer are also subject to sewerage charges, and trade effluent charges where applicable. In cases where a property is used for both non-domestic and domestic purposes, the use of water and sewerage is considered as non-domestic use.

A domestic allowance is a free volume of water and/or sewage which is subtracted from the volume as recorded by the meter, before calculating the volumetric charge. This revenue raising option would involve the removal of the allowance currently received by non-domestic customers for domestic usage, meaning that such customers would be required to pay more.

The consultation can be found at Water and sewerage charges – options for revenue raising | Department for Infrastructure (

Closing date for responses is 13 March 2024.

The IRRV’s response can be found at


Disability Employment Inquiry [United Kingdom]

A new inquiry from the Work and Pensions Committee will investigate how disabled people can be better supported to start and stay in work and the effectiveness of the Government’s recent efforts to narrow the disability employment gap.

The inquiry will examine the progress being made in reducing the difference between the proportion of disabled and non-disabled people in employment since the Committee’s 2021 report, which warned that DWP’s national programme for supporting disabled people in work was not working. Further Committee reports have also voiced concern about Work Capability Assessments and made other recommendations on improving support for disabled workers.

The inquiry can be found at

Deadline for call of evidence is 28 March 2024.


A library containing Institute responses to Consultations, Inquiries, Surveys etc. can be found at

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