HL Deb 31 July 1981 vol 423 c945WA
Baroness Stedman

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How a low-spending authority like Cambridge-shire County Council can be expected to meet the increased demands on its services for education where pupil numbers are rising and meet the Government request for a further reduction in spending of £13.9 million.

Baroness Young

The Government are aware of the difficulties faced by local authorities in containing their expenditure within the limits for 1981–82 set out in the last White Paper on public expenditure, Cmnd. 8175. But they must make their contribution to the reduction of public expenditure which the Government consider essential in order to permit a revitalisation of the economy. Since education accounts for about a half of all local authority expenditure it clearly cannot be exempt.

The use of a standard expenditure target in the call for revised budgets is bound to bear more heavily on some authorities than on others, depending on their particular circumstances, but this was necessary if the required reduction in budgets was to be achieved. Parliament will be asked to take a further decision on the level and distribution of grant for 1981–82 in the autumn, when revised budgets have been analysed and the Government have considered issues of principle like that raised in the Question.