The National Rural Conference 2024

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Need for Fair Funding for Internal Drainage Boards

Need for Fair Funding for Internal Drainage Boards

A Special Interest Group of the LGA, the Internal Drainage Board levies stressed the need for fair funding at a Parliamentary event last week.

The event was hosted by Rt Hon Liz Truss MP and Rt Hon Sir John Hayes MP and aimed to raise the profile of the unfair funding for those councils needing to pay a Special Levy to the Internal Drainage Boards.

The SIG, a collaboration of 29 local authorities are all seeking a long term and sustainable approach to the funding of Internal Drainage Boards that removes the pressure from local council finances.

The event featured speeches from Liz Truss MP on the impact in her constituency, SIG Chair Councillor Paul Redgate, along with Lord Gary Porter CBE and Marianne Overton MBE.

Drainage Boards have a vitally important role to protect and support our communities and the economy.

How are they funded?

A special levy funds the work of IBDs, paid by landowners and predominantly by the local authority within that area. 

Prior to 2013/14 this was funded via the Revenue Support Grant. Since that time the Revenue Support Grant has been reduced, meaning affected Councils now must fund the levy demands and annual increases through Council Tax yield.  With Council Tax increases capped, some local authorities are unable to generate the funds needed to meet the levy demands and the needs of their own statutory services. In some cases, the levy demand increases are outstripping the Council Tax yield, resulting in cuts to services to fund the levies.

This has particularly affected some smaller rural district councils who are facing rising costs.

Why did the cost of the special Levy rise?

A number of factors have influenced the significant rise of the special levy, including the Ukranian war and the increasing cost of fuel, and rising utility costs.


The Government recently announced a one off £3 million grant for this year and confirmed that they would work with DEFRA to 'explore options to implement a long term solution'. This is welcomed by the authorities particularly the emphasis on a long term solution.

The RT Hon Elizabeth Truss MP said: “I’m very pleased to have hosted the IDB Special Interest Group in Parliament on Tuesday night. The outstanding job done by IDBs across the country, in dredging, ditch clearing and water resource management demonstrates the value of landowners and farmers with local expertise.  

“A sustainable solution must be found for the current financing problems, as district councils should not be disadvantaged for having an effective drainage system.”

The Rural Services Network Chief Executive Kerry Booth attended the event in Parliament to lend her support to the case for a fairer funding formula. 

She spoke with the Leader of Boston Council Cllr Anne Dorrian who explained how the cost of the Special Levy for Boston was almost 60% of their total council tax yield, leaving them with difficult decisions to balance the books.

Cllr Paul Redgate said:

“Everyone in the room was united with one voice – we need Government to implement a solution with pace.

The urgency for this to be resolved cannot be stressed enough. The levy will keep consuming the money Councils have available for services it raises by Council tax every year until a fair deal is secured.”

You can read more about the event and the concerns for future funding in this press release about the event.


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