2021 Methodology Review
About the Financial Assistance Grant
All local governments in Australia receive a Financial Assistance Grant (FA Grant) allocation, as determined by state and territory grants commissions.
For 2021-22, the Federal Government allocated $2.7 billion for the FA Grant, of which Queensland received $532 million (a 19.7% share of the total pool). All of this funding is disbursed to local government. Any costs of administering Grants Commissions are borne by their state/territory.
There are two components to the FA Grant, the General Purpose Grant (GPG) component and the Identified Road Grant (IRG) component. Queensland’s 2021-22 FA Grant comprised of $377 million in GPG funding and $155 million in IRG funding.
All of the funding is completely untied and may be spent on any local council priorities.
The Commission is an independent statutory authority whose primary role is to make recommendations to the state and federal ministers for local government on the allocation of the FA Grant to all Queensland councils.
The Commission’s statutory powers come under both state and federal legislation.
Under the Federal legislation – Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995 (s3) – the objective of the FA Grant funding is to assist councils to improve in five areas: financial capacity; capacity to provide equitable services; certainty of funding; efficiency and effectiveness; and services to ATSI communities.
The legislation includes a set of National Principles that state grants commissions must follow. The first principle establishes horizontal equalisation as a key concept for the FA Grant. This concept requires the funding to be allocated such that, to the extent possible, councils are able to deliver at least an average standard of services to the community.
More information about the Commission and the FA Grant can be found here ( 213.7 KB).
About the Review
The Commission has undertaken a review of the methodology for the allocation of the FA Grant to Queensland councils.
It is ten years since the last major review was completed. The need for a review was supported through feedback received by the Commission from Queensland councils and is in line with a resolution of the 2020 Local Government Association of Queensland Annual Conference.
The Commission engaged Queensland Treasury Corporation to undertake a comprehensive review of the FA Grant allocation methodology.
The Commission strongly believes a more equitable distribution of the FA Grant can be achieved in accordance with the Commonwealth National Principles, with a focus on achieving greater horizontal fiscal equalisation for Queensland local governments.
The objectives underpinning changes to the allocation methodology are:
Councils understand the methodology and how their allocation is determined
Outcomes address relative disadvantage in the current environment
Minimises complexity in the approach
Data is consistent and obtained from trusted sources
Methodology ensures low variability of allocation outcomes
The scope of the review acknowledged that the Commission must operate within the:
- relevant legislation
- Commonwealth National Principles
- size of the funding pool, which is determined by the Commonwealth Government.
In June 2021, the Commission released a Discussion Paper, inviting input to the review from councils and other stakeholders. Download the 2021 Methodology review – discussion paper ( 553.6 KB).
Feedback on the Discussion Paper closed in July 2021. In total, the Commission received 31 submissions from a range of individual councils and Regional Organisations of Councils (ROC).
The Commission was very pleased with the high level of engagement on the discussion paper from councils. Through both the formal responses and attendance by Commissioners at a number of ROC meetings, the Commission is confident that the vast majority of councils have had their say.
The formal submissions received represent a good cross-section of the various types and sizes of councils. Collectively, the submissions provided feedback on the questions posed in the discussion paper. The time and energy invested in the submissions was apparent and provides the Commission with valuable insight.
The feedback provided:
- demonstrated overall, that councils and stakeholders are supportive of a review of the FA Grant methodology.
- endorsed the objectives the Commission is using to guide the review, although the stable and equitable objectives should be prioritised.
- acknowledged the significant challenge in constructing a single model to allocate funding across Queensland’s 77 councils, given the diversity in this cohort.
- while not unanimous, supported an increase in the number of councils who receive the minimum grant. Councils were generally reluctant to identify specific councils or criteria for a minimum grant council. The feedback requested that the Commission’s decision making in this regard be transparent and well documented.
- identified a large number of factors that impact councils’ ability to provide services.
More information on the consultation here ( 270.7 KB).
About the new Methodology
The methodology review is complete and the commission will be implementing a new methodology from 2022-23.
The new methodology will establish a simpler, stable and transparent allocations approach.
Key features of the new model include:
- focusing on the difference between a council’s potential to raise revenue and its actual capacity to raise revenue in acknowledgement of the revenue raising challenge faced by many councils
- allowing for the difference in costs in providing services (on a per capita basis)
- including cost factors that better reflect an individual council’s operating environment (remoteness, dispersion and socio-economic conditions)
- reducing the sensitivity of the model to road network input data, which means road length and related information is not as influential in determining grant allocations.
- establishing four more councils as minimum grant councils given their higher revenue raising capacity when compared to other Queensland councils.
A more equitable funding distribution has been achieved with more funding to be distributed under the new model to councils with a greater need, predominantly small and indigenous councils.
- 50 councils (65%) out of 77 councils in Queensland will receive a greater funding allocation under the new FA Grant methodology.
- 35% of councils will receive a reduced allocation. For these councils the average reduction is approximately 2% of operating revenue.
The new methodology represents a change from the past and the Commission recognises that councils need time to prepare for the new distribution approach. For this reason, changes to transition to the new FA Grant allocation model will be implemented over a three-year period, commencing from the 2022-23 financial year.
The Commission hopes to confirm councils’ 2022-23 allocations in May 2022, once Queensland’s 2022-23 allocation from the Commonwealth Government has been confirmed.
Councils informed of review
Discussion paper released for consultation
Consideration of feedback
Outcomes of review advised
Yes – the Commission needs to operate within the National Principles which require that 30% of the General Purpose Grant is allocated based on population. Changing the National Principles is not in the scope of this review.
No – the total FA Grant will continue to be indexed annually by the Commonwealth Government based on Population and CPI; and announced in the Federal Budget. All that is changing is how the QLGGC allocates Queensland’s allocation.
The amount of the FA Grant allocation received by Queensland is not in the control of the QLGGC.
The early payment (or bring-forward payment) is an annual budgetary decision of the Commonwealth Government.
This is not in the control of the QLGGC.
The review will investigate ways to distribute funding to councils with limited control over revenue raising options.
The review will also investigate different ways of allocating the Identified Road Grant component, which was not reviewed in 2011, to provide less emphasis on population.
Subject to Commonwealth approval, the new model will be used to determine the 2022-23 FA Grant allocations.
The implementation of the new model will likely be transitioned over a period of say 3 years, to minimise disruption to affected councils.
Summary of changes to QLGGC Methodology since 2011 Review
New methodology implemented
Garbage changed to average per property (not per bin)
Averaging of Property Valuations reduced from 10yr to 5yr
Location Cost Adjustor – Mornington Shire Council increase from '2' to ‘3’
Increased maximum Location Cost Adjustor from ‘2’ to ‘2.5’
Increased heavy vehicle weightings as below:
Change in Heavy Vehicle Weightings
Class of vehicle
Light to medium trucks, two axles
Heavy rigid and/or twin steer tandem
You can email any submissions, questions or concerns to QLGGC.Enquiries@dsdilgp.qld.gov.au.
Last updated: 15 Aug 2022