§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will state his reasons and the precedents for top-slicing the costs of specific local government reorganisation from the general grant available to local authorities. 
§ Sir Paul Beresford
The reorganisation transitional damping grant scheme for 1997–98 will damp those council tax increases directly attributable to reorganisation that come above a threshold of £52 at band D. Such increases are not the result of the reorganised authorities' spending decisions. They occur where the pattern of spend in the past has not followed the standard spending assessment. The scheme is transitional and will protect council tax payers from increases above the threshold while the reorganised authorities adapt to their new circumstances.
A similar scheme operated in 1996–97 and was also funded through a top-slice of revenue support grant. Since 1994–95, we have also paid SSA reduction grant to authorities whose SSA has been reduced by more than a certain threshold as a result of changes in the SSA methodology. The funds for this have been top-sliced from RSG each year.186W
We consulted on the 1997–98 reorganisation transitional damping scheme as part of the consultation on the 1997–98 provisional local government finance settlement. We took all representations into account before taking our final decisions.