HC Deb 20 May 1996 vol 278 cc47-8W
Mrs. Lait

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his decision on the final caps for the two local authorities which challenged their cap; and if he will make a statement. [30445]

Mr. Gummer

I have laid before the House a draft order, under section 57 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, setting out our decisions on the final caps for Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire county councils.

We have considered very carefully all the available relevant information, including the case made by the authorities in support of a higher cap, before taking our decisions. We have decided to confirm the caps proposed for both authorities.

The caps are, in our view, reasonable, appropriate and achievable in all the circumstances of the authorities concerned. These decisions will reduce public expenditure, and the burden on council taxpayers in the areas concerned, by £13 million in 1996–97. This will result in a council tax reduction, at band D of £25.26 in Cambridgeshire and £34.89 in Oxfordshire.

However, I have concluded that Oxfordshire has certain pressures on its budget which may lead to problems in the short term. I have therefore invited Oxfordshire to consider making an application for a chaptalisation direction and supplementary credit approval. This would enable Oxfordshire to capitalise certain costs, thereby releasing resources to support is revenue expenditure.