The Brussels parliament adopted on Thursday, by a large majority, the general framework for reform of the general financial provision to the communes. This is first in this field since 1998. This time it has been instigated by the Brussels Minister-President, Rudi Vervoort (PS). To ensure the financial stability of the communes, this reform is accompanied by a refinancing programme going up to 30 million euros.
Some 46 deputies voted in favour of this text. Three (New Flemish Alliance) voted against this and 27 (MR; Ecolo/Groen and PTB) abstained.
Rudi Vervoort says the main motive for the reform is population inequalities. “In some communes, one child in two is born below the poverty line, a level of poverty to which local administrations and branches of CPAS are trying to respond as best they can, but sometimes, it must be said, with limited resources.”
In addition, some communes are faced with a population growth three or four times greater than Flanders and Wallonia, with everything which that assumes in terms of infrastructure, facilities and services for the population. Adapted as a consequence, the General Provision for Communes will be broken down according to new criteria fixed by the Order, on the basis of resource allocation indexed annually at a rate of 2%.
The budgetary envelope for the General Grant to the Communes and for the Special Fund for Social Assistance will go up to 366,102,000 euros in 2017. This amount is comprised of historic grants, consolidated and enhanced by a 30 million-euro refinancing arrangement. These two sub-envelopes will then be respectively divided on the basis of a single and unique key between the communes and CPAS branches.
There will be a transitory period instigated for the years 2017-2018. From 2019, the legislative key will be turned and reviewed every three years. Every commune will see its financial stability guaranteed. Using a specific mechanism, a solidarity package will be made up. This will ensure that no commune ever suffers a reduction in its grant.
Specific Social Aid Funds, paid by CPAS branches, will increase between 2016 and 2018 from €21 million to €28.5 million.