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The Guide

This guide on personal interests gives basic practical information about how to be open and transparent about your personal interests. It is designed to help councillors, including parish councillors, now that new standards arrangements have been introduced by the Localism Act. 20111

Introduction to the rules?

Parliament abolished the Standards Board regime and all the rules under it. It has done this because that centrally imposed, bureaucratic regime had become a vehicle for petty, malicious and politically-motivated complaints against councillors. Rather than creating a culture of trust and openness between councillors and those they represent, it was damaging, without justification, the public’s confidence in local democratic governance.

The new standards arrangements that Parliament has put in place mean that it is largely for councils themselves to decide their own local rules. It is essential that there is confidence that councillors everywhere are putting the public interest first and are not benefiting their own financial affairs from being a councillor. Accordingly, within the new standards arrangements there are national rules about councillors’ interests. 2

Such rules, in one form or another, have existed for decades. The new rules are similar to the rules that were in place prior to the Standards Board regime. Those rules, originating in the Local Government Act 1972 and the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, involved local authority members registering their pecuniary interests in a publicly available register, and disclosing their interests and withdrawing from meetings in certain circumstances. Failure to comply with those rules was in certain circumstances a criminal offence, as is failure to comply in certain circumstances with the new rules.


  1. The Guide should not be taken as providing any definitive interpretation of the statutory requirements; those wishing to address such issues should seek their own legal advice.
  2. The national rules are in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011 and in the secondary legislation made under the Act, particularly in The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 (S.I.2012/1464).
Contents
  1. Introduction to the rules?
  2. Does this affect me?
  3. How will there be openness and transparency about my personal interests?
  4. What personal interests should be entered in my council’s or authority’s register of members’ interests?
  5. What must I do about registering my personal interests?
  6. What are pecuniary interests?
  7. Do I have any disclosable pecuniary interests?
  8. Does my spouse’s or civil partner’s name need to appear on the register of interests?
  9. Does my signature need to be published online? Won’t this put me at risk of identity theft?
  10. Who can see the register of members’ interests?
  11. Is there any scope for withholding information on the published register?
  12. When is information about my interests removed from my council’s register of members’ interests?
  13. What does having a disclosable pecuniary interest stop me doing?
  14. Where these prohibitions apply, do I also have to leave the room?
  15. Do I need a dispensation to take part in the business of setting council tax or a precept?
  16. When and how can I apply for a dispensation?
  17. What happens if I don’t follow the rules on disclosable pecuniary interests?
  18. Where can I look at the national rules on pecuniary interests?
Annex A
  1. Description of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests
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