§ Mr. English
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether local authority current expenditure for 1977–78 and 1978–79 in England and Wales is in line with the Government's expenditure plans; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Shore
The annual DOE/CIPFA return of expenditure and rates for England and Wales suggests that the outturn for 1977–78 is now expected to be marginally below what was envisaged at the time of the 1978–79 rate support grant settlement. For 1978–79 the estimates envisage that authorities will spend, in aggregate, some £200 million above the level envisaged in the settlement. Authorities have also made allowance for a slightly higher rate of inflation than was assumed in the calculations underlying the cash limit on grant.
Clearly it is important that authorities should adhere to the public expenditure limits. Experience over the last two years has shown that these estimates overstate the eventual outturn by sufficient to make it probable that the outturn in 1978–79 will be in accord with the Gov 700W ernment's plans. I have agreed, therefore, with the local authority associations that no immediate action is required; but I shall continue to monitor the position with the associations throughout the year.