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Local Government Finance

Volume 171: debated on Wednesday 25 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment to what factors he ascribes the standard spending assessment for Barnsley metropolitan district council being the lowest of the metropolitan district authorities.

Barnsley's SSA of £112 million, or £669 per adult, has been calculated in accordance with the distribution report approved by the House on 18 January, using the factors applicable to all metropolitan district councils. Those factors reflect the demographic, physical and social characteristics of each authority area.

The Minister is probably aware that, even under the grant-related expenditure assessment, Barnsley's grant was always at the bottom of the list. At this late stage, will he look at Barnsley's SSA, as the low assessment has led to Barnsley being capped? That is unfair when Manchester has an assessment of £1,170 per adult to provide the same level of services.

I regret that Barnsley should have chosen to budget to spend excessively, and the figures are clear. In Barnsley's case, the budget of £142 million for 1990–91 is almost 27 per cent. above its SSA, which is equivalent to £178 per adult above the SSA. Using the measure used by the hon. Gentleman, the budget is also some 19 per cent. above the rescaled 1989–90 grant-related expenditure, so, on any reasonable measure, the budget is excessive.