HC Deb 05 April 1995 vol 257 cc1292-3W
Mr. Kevin Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to remove the capping criteria on local government spending. [18237]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

None. Capping ensures that all authorities play their part in the restraint of public expenditure, and protects taxpayers from high council taxes. We have taken powers to reduce excessive budgets and excessive increases in budget and have made it clear that we will not hesitate to use them should it prove necessary to do so.

Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the average standard spending assessment in England over the last two years; what is the figure in Liverpool; what is the Liverpool standard spending assessment as an average per head of population; what is the corresponding figure for inner London boroughs; and what is the average standard spending assessment per head of population in Tower Hamlets and Hackney. [18941]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

The figures requested are shown below:

1994–95 1995–96
Standard spending assessment for England (£ per head) £782 £798
Standard spending assessment for Liverpool £419m £423m
Standard spending assessment for Liverpool (£ per head) £875 £887
Average standard spending assessment for inner London boroughs (£ per head) £1,090 £1,141
Standard spending assessment for Tower Hamlets (£ per head) £1,481 £1,535
Standard spending assessment for Hackney (£ per head) £1,305 £1,295


The figures have not been adjusted for changes in function. The £ per head figures for England are not comparable with those for Liverpool or London authorities primarily because of the inclusion in the former of SSA elements for police and fire.

Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what consultation takes place with local government before the annual standard spending assessment formula is determined; and if he will make it his policy to publish information requested by local government about next year's standard spending assessment before the consultation period has been completed; [18937]

(2) how many local authorities came to see Ministers this year about the standard spending assessment; and what changes to the standard spending assessment methodology have been proposed as a result of the meeting with those authorities. [18938]

Mr. Robert B. Jones

There are annual discussions with the local authority associations in the local government finance settlement working group. In particular, a technical sub-group of officials from the associations and relevant Government Departments meets approximately 10 to 12 times between March and September each year to consider possible changes in methodology. An annual report of this sub-group's work is published and discussed at the consultative council on local government finance, which is chaired by my right hon. Friend. In December, provisional standard spending assessments are published and sent to all local authorities together with an explanation of any proposed changes in methodology and the underlying data which has been used. There is a formal period of consultation during which local authorities may make representations. In the light of this consultation, final standard spending assessments are calculated and sent to local authorities.

The information which is provided to local government at all the key stages in the annual cycle is discussed with the local authority associations. Wherever practicable, we seek to meet local authority requests for information.

Department of the Environment Ministers met 90 delegations from local authorities during consultation on the provisional local government finance settlement. In addition, nine police authorities had meetings with Home Office Ministers. As a result of representations made during consultation, there was only one methodology change, concerning the application of the area cost

1985–86 1986–87 1987–88 1988–89 1989–90 1990–91 1991–92 1992–93 1993–94
Craven 19,071 20,643 20,938 25,222 32,583 45,488 41,135 39,633 39,775
Hambleton 19,151 21,794 23,624 29,956 39,790 46,972 45,747 45,474 n/a
Harrogate 17,709 20,420 20,830 24,659 34,086 42,210 43,361 41,910 41,715
Richmondshire 19,245 20,593 21,957 26,104 30,503 37,288 41,856 40,079 38,204
Ryedale 19,810 21,878 22,658 27,928 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Scarborough 19,557 19,877 20,137 24,173 32,310 38,028 39,939 43,448 41,042
Selby 19,600 20,600 21,800 23,997 31,212 31,940 38,625 41,165 41,075
York 19,418 20,802 22,537 27,161 39,035 43,627 43,809 42,522 40,938

Average right-to-buy prices represent the values of dwellings that have been sold and may not be representative of the stock still in council ownership. They represent a measure of vacant possession value rather than tenanted market value. Some values in the table are not available because data is no longer collected following the authority's transfer of dwellings to a housing association.