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Local Taxation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 4th July 2005.

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Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Minister of State (Communities and Local Government), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 4:00 pm, 4th July 2005

The Government make no apology for saying that the money we raise for education—our top priority—needs to go on education, and I am pleased that local authorities have supported that. On the hon. Gentleman's wider point, if money is specified for one function, it cannot of course be spent on another. However, I am sure that he is pleased, as I am, at the development of the local area agreements that allow local authorities to move money across the piece, because such agreements contribute to the vibrancy of local government, in which I know he believes.

The evidence of the Government's determination to control costs as well as to support local government can be seen in the average increase of 4.1 per cent. in council tax this year, but it is also evident in our drive for efficiency. The Government can play a lead role in that area. That is what we have done through the Gershon review, which has set challenging efficiency targets for local authorities of up to £6.5 billion by 2007–08. For our part, we will continue to work with local government to ensure that those targets are met and the money is then properly spent.