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Gloucestershire county council had every opportunity to come and explain why it was not able to live within the same sort of restrictions within which most other counties lived. When it came to do so, I am afraid that it did not put up a convincing case. Somerset was able to show that, in the particular circumstances concerned, it would have had to cut its school budgets in cash terms, but Gloucestershire county council admitted from the beginning that it did not have to. Having admitted that it had the money to deliver a reasonable solution, Gloucestershire is now claiming something wholly different, to try to blame the Government for what is its own fault.
My hon. Friend is right: Gloucestershire is running a party political operation to excuse its own incompetence. Like everyone else, it had every opportunity to put its case. I am afraid that it failed to do so because its case was not very good.
I have therefore concluded that the cap for Somerset should be £264.920 million, an increase of £2.6 million above the original cap. In reaching that conclusion, I took into account the authority's overall financial position and the particularly severe impact that a budget cap would have had on school budgets in Somerset.
I considered carefully the cases put to me by Devon, Gloucestershire and Shropshire.