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New Disclosable Interest Requirements - balancing transparency and intrusiveness

12 June 2012

The new standards regime for local authorities comes into force on 1st July and the Government has this week laid before Parliament the regulations governing disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs). Certainty around DPIs is key, because if members don’t comply with the DPI arrangements without reasonable excuse, they will be committing a criminal offence, with penalties of fines up to £5,000 and disqualification from office for up to five years.

The DPIs are wide ranging – from employment through to interests in land (even short-term) within the authority area and contracts with the relevant authority. Members may be disconcerted to learn that disclosure is now required where DPIs relate to spouses or domestic partners. And the register is very public – it must be published on the relevant authority’s website. This requirement even applies to parish councils.

Transparency is key and the rules reflect the trend towards greater freedom of information. But will they deter public spirited citizens from getting involved in local government?

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