Local Government Finance — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:14 pm on 17th December 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 3:14 pm, 17th December 2015

I thank my noble friend for, as always, his very sensible words. I said in my previous answer that I wish that when I had been a local authority leader I had had some sort of certainty as we lurched from year to year with local government settlements. I thank him for making the observation that the certainty is welcome. It also encourages councils to look at their reserve position. By their nature, reserves are for one-off, planned spending and are never intended to prop up revenue spending. However, if you know what your four-year position is, you can use reserves for one-off measures.

My noble friend talked about the reduction in RSG and—I presume by inference—the changeover to business rates. The Government will be consulting widely on that. I hope to see people like my noble friend coming to discuss with my department how some of the anomalous situations that might arise, particularly with an older population, can be dealt with through this process.

I take his point about devolution, but he will not be surprised to hear that, as a former Greater Manchester councillor, I do not perhaps share so much of his pessimism about it.