Coronavirus: Actions for CIL
COVID-19 pandemic lockdown implications for Community Infrastructure Levy
The impact of recent changes, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been widespread and CIL is an area of statutory council business which has been affected during this period. With the announcements of a pause on most of the construction industry and a halt to property sales, together with questions being raised about payment of CIL, Neighbourhood CIL transactions and approval of infrastructure funding, we have considered the implications. We have been in discussion with the Ministry of Homes, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to explore how the methods of support we proposed may also be addressed in national guidance and legislation.
Further to these discussions, MHCLG have written to Chief Planning Officers and also published the following guidance.
The guidance aims to help small and mediums sized developers by introducing amendments to the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 to enable charging authorities to defer payments, to temporarily disapply late payment interest and to provide a discretion to return interest already charged where they consider it appropriate to do so. The easements can be applied to developers with an annual turnover of less than £45 million. It is intended that these easements will not be open-ended and will be removed when the economic situation has recovered.
In respect of CIL income, we will address each CIL instalment due within the next 30 days on a case-by-case basis and have requested that developers contact us to discuss matters individually.
- Where development has already commenced, upon written request and where a developer can prove they meet the small or mediums sized criteria, a new CIL demand notice will be re-issued to allow for a 3 month extension to the next instalment due date and to subsequent outstanding instalments. This position will be reviewed towards the end of June and any further extension to instalment payment will need to be requested and agreed. Please note It will take time for notices to be prepared and issued, but this work will be prioritised.
- An individual, case by case review of late payment interest and surcharges for deferred/enforcement cases will be made and a pragmatic approach adopted to support customers in these circumstances, in line with the guidance.
- Neighbourhood CIL payments due by 28 April 2020 will still be made to town and parish councils for the CIL collected in the period between 1 October 2019 and 31 March 2020. This process is lengthy and may be impacted by the availability of resources during this period of time. Town and parish councils are advised that the payments that are due to be made in October 2020 are likely to be significantly less than the predicted amounts expected to be received by East Suffolk. This is directly due to the extensions in instalment policy timescales as detailed above in the first point, which will result in delays in payment of CIL to East Suffolk.
- We have also received requests to extend the 5 year period to spend Neighbourhood CIL. The 5 year spend limit is set by legislation and cannot be changed at a local level. As it stands we are keen to work with all parishes in helping them to spend their Neighbourhood CIL in an efficient and timely manner. If any Neighbourhood CIL is unspent in the 5 years since it was received and has to be returned to the district, then this remains ring-fenced to spend in the parish and we would seek to direct that back to existing planned projects, led by the parish, in the first instance. We hope that the government may include measures in legislation changes to allow parishes to hold onto their CIL beyond 5 years if the Coronavirus causes significant delays in Neighbourhood CIL spending.
CIL Spending Strategy
- The 2020 window for district CIL funding bids was due to commence on 1 April. In light of current circumstances we have paused the CIL spending strategy for 6 months, to 30 September, whilst statutory infrastructure providers focus their resources towards Coronavirus. This position will be reviewed in September.
As a result of our Infrastructure Team working remotely, we remain available to support developers, communities and infrastructure providers. If you need to contact us, please leave a voicemail on 01502 523059 or email CIL@eastsuffolk.gov.uk (if a new enquiry). Our team can all pick these up, will assign to the relevant officer from there and will call back where required. Over this time we are productively focussing our attention on our existing Exacom project to build our database of developer contributions. This digital transformation of the service will provide a comprehensive publicly accessible resource for all CIL and Section 106 agreements.