§ Helen Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to conduct research into local councils' and authorities' use of section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972. 362W
§ Ms Armstrong
Section 137 is used by an increasing number of parish and town councils to provide a wide range of activities. The majority of section 137 spending by local councils is on grants to other bodies and funding for services such as youth activities, schools and playgroups. The findings of a study on local councils use of section 137 was published in November last year.
Furthermore, my Department has today published a report on local authorities use of section 137. The report found that while section 137 provides essential flexibility, authorities perceived that there are barriers to its use, such as the current financial limit on expenditure.
We are currently considering the best approach which will allow local authorities to carry out a new duty to promote the economic, social and environmental well being of their communities. Section 137 will be reviewed in the light of this new duty and we will take account of the findings of this report and the views of local authorities in doing so.