§ 17. Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East)
What has been the average rate of increase in percentage terms in the allowable spending of local councils over the past five years; and what is the figure for Rochford. 
§ The Minister for Local Government and Housing (Ms Hilary Armstrong)
The average allowable increase in the spending of local councils in England over the past five years was 2.7 per cent. For Rochford, it was 2.8 per cent. This year, the Government have not set spending limits for individual authorities.
§ Sir Teddy Taylor
As the Minister is aware, Rochford is an area with high unemployment and many social problems, and needs investment—but is she also aware that since the Government came to power, the council has been concerned about the financial nightmare that it has had to face? Is she willing to reconsider the situation in Rochford and tell us in what way grants for the area were increased this year? According to the information given to me, they have not been increased, but fell in real terms.
§ Ms Armstrong
The hon. Gentleman will know that the sums that the Government have provided for local government this year are higher than for the past seven years. His local council, which covers Rochford, has not had a spending limit imposed this year. It has increased its budget by 2.8 per cent. Council tax rises are substantially higher in Tory authorities than in Labour authorities. I invite the hon. Gentleman to help us to get the best value from local government by ensuring that authorities use the increased money that they are getting from the Government this year effectively for local people.