Local Authorities

Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 24th June 1999.

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Photo of John McAllion John McAllion Labour 2:30 pm, 24th June 1999

To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to review the criteria used for distributing Government grants to local authorities in Scotland. (S1O-101)

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

Major reviews of the system for distributing grants are already under way and we intend to continue them after 1 July. This week, we also intend to look carefully at the McIntosh commission recommendations on local authority finance. We will report to the Parliament about that next Friday.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion Labour

The minister will be aware that a combination of boundary changes and mismatched funding following the move to single-tier authorities, together with the flight of the new affluent middle classes across the new boundaries and, above all, concentrations of deprivation and poverty, have badly affected councils such as Dundee and Glasgow, and left them facing the dire combination of having to charge ever higher council taxes while they are forced to make cuts in council services.

Given that only 1 per cent or so of the current criteria used to allocate funds to local authorities cover factors relating to poverty and deprivation, can the minister assure us that, as part of the review, much more weight will be given to matters relating to those factors and that the plight of Glasgow and Dundee will be addressed by the Executive?

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

I am well aware of Mr McAllion's concern on those issues, which I have also discussed this week with Kate Maclean. They are serious issues; I have discussed them with officials and, over the summer, I intend to examine them and other issues further, partly as a result of the recommendations of the McIntosh commission.