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Local Authority Funding

Volume 511: debated on Thursday 10 June 2010

As my hon. Friend will know, and as I said in relation to an earlier question, this is the third and final year of a settlement. Yes, we will be consulting in relation to future funding arrangements, and that certainly includes a willingness to consider any options that may be put forward.

Will the Minister confirm that the plans we set out in our manifesto to make the funding formula more transparent—[Interruption.] Excuse me—I would like Opposition Members to listen. [Interruption.]

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will start again.

Will the Minister confirm that the plans to make the funding formula more transparent and independently audited are still intact? That is a matter of great concern in my constituency of Devizes and all the Wiltshire constituencies, because we receive the lowest amount of funding from central Government of any unitary authority.

I can confirm that the Government remain committed to a review, and we are more than happy to examine the points that are raised.

The Minister seemed to suggest earlier that the poorest communities would bear the brunt of the cuts. What is he doing to protect the poorest communities, such as those in Halton, from the cuts?

The important thing that we have done is to protect formula grant, which is the largest single grant paid to local authorities. As I said, we have given local authorities considerably more leeway in how they use those moneys by ring-fencing a significant number of grants and removing significant burdens such as the inspection regime, which is estimated to cost local authorities something in the order of £2 billion a year.