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Local Government Finance

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 5 November 1997

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8.

What steps he will take to assist local authorities facing reductions in local services. [12382]

We are well aware of the financial pressures on local government in Wales and will do what we can in the forthcoming revenue settlement to recognise them, although the room for manoeuvre in 1998–99 is relatively small.

Will the Minister consider removing the cap on local government expenditure in Wales to enable local communities to benefit from not having their services under the extreme pressure that they face at present?

We in the Welsh Office have had a constructive debate with the Welsh Local Government Association and, in particular, with the Welsh Consultative Council on Local Government Finance. A package of proposals has been put forward to which Councillor Shaw from Powys county council made an invaluable contribution. We are considering those proposals. On the basis of our last meeting, we believe that there will be a way forward in this difficult year and that, while it will not lead to the removal of capping, there will be sufficient room in the system to keep everybody happy at least for the coming year.