§ Mr. Cant
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will publish his latest estimate of local authority overspending in 1981–82; and what action 49W he will take under the Local Government, Planning and Land Act, if the total entitlement grant exceeds the total amount of block grant available.
§ Mr. King
Until local authorities have submitted their budget plans for 1981–82 it is impossible to say whether or not they are likely to overspend. The adjustments which will become necessary if the total grant claim exceeds the amount of block grant available are described in paragraph 44 and annex M of the "Rate Support Grant Report (England) 1980", which was approved by the House of Commons on 14 January. In supplementary guidance to local authorities issued on 23 January I have indicated that in general any such adjustments would tend to increase the rate poundage cost for authorities of expenditure above the threshold above GRE more than for expenditure at lower levels. I have also indicated that if the aggregate budget plans showed any likelihood of substantial overspend, and if I therefore had to propose any reduction or withholding of the total amount of grant in 1981–82, I would propose making this adjustment in such a way that any authority which had met the target of reducing the volume of current expenditure to 5.6 per cent. below the 1978–79 level would be exempt from the effect of this.