HC Deb 01 April 2004 vol 419 c1652W
Joan Ruddock

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what resources his Department makes available to local authorities for sites of special scientific interest; and how much was made available in 2003–04. [164970]

Phil Hope

Local authorities, along with all public bodies have a duty under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) to take reasonable steps, consistent with the proper exercise of their functions, to further the conservation and enhancement of SSSIs. Local authorities also have responsibilities in respect of SSSIs, especially as planning authorities and as SSSI landowners.

Most funding for local authorities' revenue expenditure, including for example support for education, social services and their responsibilities in this area, is met through general grant which is made up of Revenue Support Grant and National Non-Domestic Rates. General grant totalled £43.894 million in 2003–04, which is an increase of £2.449 million or 5.9 per cent. Decisions on spending priorities are a matter for individual authorities taking into account their statutory responsibilities.