Section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 allows local councils to spend a limited amount of money on purposes not covered by other statutory powers.
The act pertains to the powers of English and Welsh parish councils to incur expenses for purposes that are considered to be in the interests of the local community. These expenses are referred to as "Section 137 expenses."
✅ Under Section 137, expenses that may be incurred by a parish council include, but are not limited to:
- The provision, improvement, and maintenance of public amenities, such as parks, playgrounds, and public toilets.
- The provision and maintenance of public lighting.
- The provision and maintenance of public open spaces, such as village greens and community gardens.
- The support and encouragement of local arts, cultural, and recreational activities, such as music and drama events and festivals.
- The promotion of health and safety, including the provision of safety equipment and training.
- The promotion of social well-being, including the provision of services and facilities for young people and the elderly.
- The support of local volunteer groups, such as the local fire service and community first responders.
- The provision of information and advice to local residents, such as through the provision of a website or newsletter.
- Contributions to charities and bodies providing a public service on a non-profit basis.
It is important to note that Section 137 expenses must be incurred for the benefit of the local community as a whole, and must not result in a significant benefit to a specific individual or group. Additionally, the expenses must be reasonable and proportionate, and must not exceed the council's overall budget.The council’s financial records must show a separate account for S137 spending.
❌ Some examples of expenses that a local council might have that do not fall under Section 137 include:
- Expenses incurred by individual councillors in carrying out their duties, unless they have been specifically authorized by the council.
- Expenses incurred in providing refreshments to members of the council, unless they are incurred in connection with a meeting of the council or a committee.
- Expenses incurred in connection with the personal political or business interests of individual councillors, unless the council has specifically authorised these expenses.
- Legal expenses incurred in defending claims against individual councillors, unless the council has agreed to indemnify them.
- The cost of litigation or legal proceedings taken against the council by individuals or organisations, unless the council has specifically authorised the action.
It is important to note that while these expenses may not fall under Section 137, they may still be subject to other regulations and requirements. It is recommended that a parish council seek legal advice if there is any doubt about the legality or propriety of an expense.
How much can be spent?
The annual S137 budget is limited and calculated by multiplying the appropriate amount by the total number on the electoral roll annually on 1st April. The expendable amount for Town and Parish Councils in England for 2022/23 is £8.82.