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Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what cumulative spending by all local authorities has been in each year in preparing for United Kingdom entry to the euro; how much he plans to allocate for spending by all local authorities on preparations for United Kingdom entry to the euro for each year from the current financial year up to and including 2005–06; and what estimates he has made of the cumulative total costs to all local authorities of changeover to the European Single Currency. [1316051

Details of public sector expenditure to date on changeover planning were included in the third outline National Changeover Plan, published on 9 June 2003. Copies of the document are available in the Library of the House.The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister expects no significant costs to local authorities at this stage and there are no plans for additional allocation of funds. The guidance to local authorities, which was released on 17 June, advises them to undertake sensible risk management and business planning for the possibility of a euro changeover. All the evidence from the euro area suggests that such early planning can significantly reduce costs of any changeover.In the event of any changeover, the total cost to local authorities will depend upon the circumstances and approach taken by individual councils. The Government would look with local authorities at the pressures they face.