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Local Government Finance

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will ensure that future local government finance settlements are corrected for actual variations from the population projections for 2007; and if she will meet hon. Members representing Newcastle upon Tyne constituencies to discuss this matter. (107336)

The Government have a policy of providing councils with multi-year formula grant settlements to provide stability and predictability of funding. Consistent with that policy, I do not intend, except in entirely exceptional circumstances, to retrospectively amend any year’s settlement. I do intend to use the best data available at the time of setting out the multi-year plans and will treat all authorities on a consistent basis.

For the 2006-07 settlement the best available population projections were the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2003-based sub-national population projections. Because 2007-08 is the second year of a multi-year settlement, the provisional 2007-08 settlement also uses the 2003-based sub-national population projections. The Government are currently consulting on the 2007-08 provisional settlement and will take into account all relevant representations made during the consultation period before making the final settlement.

The next multi-year settlement period calculations (for the three financial years 2008-09 to 2010-11) are due to be made in late 2007. In preparing for these calculations, the methodology will be reviewed and data used in the formulae to determine the 2008-09 to 2010-11 settlements will, consistent with the Secretary of State’s policy on multi-year settlements, be updated to the best data available at that time.

As there have been no changes made to the formulae for 2007-08, and in order to treat all authorities consistently, I am not able to meet individual local authority delegations during consultation. I will of course meet with hon. Members representing Newcastle upon Tyne.