§ Mr. Gummer
My capping principles for 1996–97 are as follows(i) Unitary authorities and county councils will be able to increase their budget requirement by 3 per cent. or the increase in their education, personal social services and fire standard spending assessments, whichever is the greater.(ii) Metropolitan districts outer London boroughs and fire and civil defence authorities,including London, will be able to increase their budget requirement by 2 per cent. or the increase in their education, PSS and/or fire SSAs, as appropriate, whichever is the greater.(iii) Inner London boroughs will be able to increase their budget requirement by 1.5 per cent. or the increase in their education, PSS and fire SSAs, whichever is the greater.(iv) Shire districts will be able to increase their budget requirement by 0.5 per cent.(v) Police authorities will be able to increase their budget requirement by 3.5 per cent. or the increase in their police SSA, whichever is the greater.Authorities budgeting more than 12.5 per cent. above SSA are subject to a cash freeze.There is a general proviso that no authority is to be designated if its budget requirement is £10,000 or less above the limit implied by these principles.
In accordance with sections 54 and 56 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, I have decided to designate the following authorities. The amount given after each authority is the amount which I am proposing should be the maximum amount calculated by each authority as its budget requirement for 1996–97.
£ Million Cambridgeshire County Council 402.590 Oxfordshire County Council 332.024 Essex County Council 974.218 Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority 52.780 Greater Manchester Fire and Civil Defence Authority 76.958 Tyne and Wear Fire and Civil Defence Authority 37.444
Authorities which have been designated for council tax capping now have 28 days, starting today, in which to inform us whether or not they accept their proposed cap. Essex county council, Tyne and Wear fire and civil defence authority, Greater Manchester fire and civil defence authority and Merseyside fire and civil defence authority have been designated at the budgets they originally set and therefore do not have to reduce their budgets nor incur rebilling costs.
Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire have been designated at a lower level than they proposed. If they accept, the cap is confirmed by notice and the authorities can set a revised lower budget and lower council tax bills forthwith. If they challenge, they must propose an alternative amount together with their reasons for doing so. At this stage, authorities have the opportunity to meet us to explain their 236W case. Once we have considered all the available information, we shall propose final caps which will be included in an order, a draft of which is debated by the House of Commons. If the draft order is approved, final caps are set by notice and revised budgets and council tax levels must then be set by the authorities concerned.