WHAT'S HAPPENING IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE
The ABS collects and publishes regular data on Local Government Finance, including the amount and purpose of local government expenditure. Annual financial data is collected from each state's Grants Commission, and the ABS also undertakes quarterly sample surveys of councils.
The Local Government Statistical Unit (ABS) has finalised the Annual Data returns supplied by each state's Grants Commission. The financial and function data on these forms are edited with the output being used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to compile Government Finance Statistics. Data is published in Government Finance Statistics, Australia (cat. no. 5512.0) in early April.
The ABS conducts a quarterly survey of financial information which will be despatched to a selected sample of councils in the third week of March. Responses to the quarterly survey are required by 8 April 2009 (6 working days after the end of the quarter). Early attention to getting the forms to the ABS will ensure that the financial activity of local government is accurately represented in Australia's National Accounts.
The ABS thanks councils for their cooperation in providing high quality data for these collections so close to the end of the quarter. Information provided is used in making important policy decisions concerning the sector and it is important that accurate and timely information is returned by councils in building this data set.
ABS and Grants Commissions working together
As mentioned in the September 2008 newsletter, the ABS and Grants Commission Executive Officers have been working toward improving the consistency of finance data collected by each state for Local Government Finance Statistics.
ABS Local Government Finance Statistic Managers attended the Grant Commissions Executive Office's meeting on Thursday 12 February 2009.
At this meeting, the ABS and Grants Commissions again committed to work towards improving the quality and consistency of local government statistics and continued to work at ways of practically implementing the Local Government Purpose Classification being mindful of the accounting burden this potentially imposes on councils. The Local Government Purpose Classification (cat. no. 5514.0.55.002) outlines categories of services for local government, such as road services, community development and planning, and environmental protection services.
The ABS hopes to get more involved with the Local Government Finance Officer group in coming months to assist in this development. The increasing emphasis being placed on accurate asset accounting by the Commonwealth Government was discussed as was the Australian Local Government Association's bid for funding to assist in achieving improvements in local government metrics.
For further information or inquiries about Local Government Statistics, contact the Local Government Statistical Unit on (07) 3222 6022.