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Local Government Finance: Oxfordshire

Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on what grounds his Department rejected the exceptional circumstances case put to it by West Oxfordshire district council in relation to the rate support grant settlement on 23 December 2009. (317748)

The Government consulted on the Formula Grant Settlement for local authorities in England between 26 November 2009 and 6 January 2010. In their representation, West Oxfordshire sought a recalculation of the settlement using the most recent data on their council tax base, instead of the projected data that has been used for all authorities in the calculation of the Government's proposals.

The council tax base projections used in the 2008-09 to 2010-11 Provisional Settlements were calculated in November 2007 and took into account tax base data from October 2005 and 2007. These projections used the latest data available at the time of the three-year settlement's original calculation and were calculated on a consistent basis for all local authorities.

One of the principles of multi-year settlements is the provision of more predictability and certainty in relation to the funding that we provide to local government, so that authorities can plan and manage their budgets better. Reopening the settlement to change data for an authority would undermine this principle as it would also change the distribution of formula grant for all local authorities. For this reason, where a three-year settlement is in operation, we have a clearly stated policy of only changing published provisional local government finance reports under entirely exceptional circumstances. The Government considered all representations received during consultation, including the representation from West Oxfordshire dated 23 December 2009, but concluded that no exceptional circumstances had arisen.