In its constitution, the City Corporation enjoys various capacities and has various roles: one hides behind the other. It’s helpful to know which arm of the Corporation you are dealing with at any one moment.
There are essentially three.
First, there is the City as Local Authority.
This is the part of the City that provides social services, education, health, housing, libraries, street cleansing. When local government legislation explicitly refers to “the City of London in its capacity as a local authority” this is what it is referring to.
The fund that relates to this capacity is the City Fund – the public money that the City raises from the council tax it levies and what it receives as a grant (like any local authority) from central government. The Fund also includes investment income.
Second, there is the City of London as part of the Ancient Constitution.
This is the City Corporation when it entertains Heads Of State at Guildhall banquets and convenes the establishment to honour the newly “elected” Lord Mayor every November. This is the City that traces its origins from before 6th July 1189 or, as the charters put it, “from time immemorial”.
This “Ancient” City can promulgate its own legislation and count its own money. The fund that relates to this part of the City is called the City’s Cash. This is the money that the City declares as its private money and for which it currently refuses to publish any accounts. The annual revenue from the City’s Cash is estimated at about £100m. From this account, it spends about £10m on lobbying for the financial services as well as on various non-local authority functions such as its private schools and wider London municipal functions (such as looking after Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest).
Third there is the Charitable City.
This is that part of the City that gives money to good causes in London. The fund that relates to this part of the City is called the City Bridge Fund. Its income is distinct from the City’s Cash account and it dispenses about £15m every year.
These three capacities make up the Corporation of the City of London. Generally speaking the Ancient City hides behind the Local Authority and the Charitable City, but occasionally comes out to play in its bear-fur robes and golden coaches.