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Local Spending Reports

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 28 October 2009

The Government have today published the summary of responses to the second phase of our consultation on local spending reports. The Sustainable Communities Act 2007 (“the Act”) places a requirement on the Secretary of State to make arrangements for the production of local spending reports and to consult those likely to be affected before making them. The document has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and is available on the Communities and Local Government website at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/about/sustainablecommunitiesact

The aim of local spending reports is to assist local authorities, their partners and the community to promote the sustainability of local communities by providing more information about the public money that is spent in their area.

Considerable interest was shown by respondents in the potential that the mapping of local public spending offers in support of partnership working, the delivery of efficient and high quality local services and local transparency and accountability. We recognise the clear expectation of the majority of respondents that the local spending reports should, over time, include more information, from a wider range of public bodies. However, the responses to the consultation which dealt with the purpose and content of future reports did not provide a great deal of information on the likely costs and benefits of developing the reports and the precise way in which they could be used.

The Government remain committed to the provision of information on local spending although we must ensure this is useful, to local authorities, their partners and the community they serve and that the cost of producing this is justified by its benefit.

We, therefore, will be considering the findings of this phase of the consultation in more detail together with evidence from the Total Place initiative, Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s work on how Government can use the internet to make non-personal public data as widely available as possible, and the responses to the Strengthening local democracy consultation. Once this is completed we will consult on the proposals that arise from the exercise, as required by section 6(10) of the Sustainable Communities Act 2007. We will report back to the House before the end of December 2009 on the next stages in developing local spending reports.