Oxfordshire County Council

Transport, Local Government and the Regions written question – answered on 20th July 2001.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Conservative, Henley

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the methodology changes made since 1997 to the formulae for calculating the standard spending assessment and aggregate external finance figures for Oxfordshire County Council; and if he will make an assessment of the net financial effect of these changes.

Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Transport, Local Government and Regions)

There were 15 changes in the method of determining Standard Spending Assessments (SSAs) for the 1998–99 Local Government Finance Settlement; and 20 changes for the 1999–2000 Local Government Finance Settlement.

In 1999–2000 the Government introduced a new damping grant, Central Support Protection Grant (CSPG), to ensure that no authority received less grant than the year before, and that authorities which had education and personal social services responsibilities received at least 1.5 per cent more than the year before.

The July 1998 Local Government White Paper announced a 3-year review of Revenue Grant Distribution. It said that the Government did not expect to make fresh changes to the method of calculation of SSAs except where there are changes in the functions of councils, or the funding of particular services.

In 2000–01 there were therefore only limited adjustments to SSAs to accommodate the establishment of the Greater London Authority and related changes, most notably those arising from the alterations to the boundary of the Metropolitan Police District and the Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey police areas. CSPG was retained in 2000–01.

In 2001–02 there was only one change in the method of determining SSAs to reflect the transfer of funding for Nursery Education for four-year-olds. CSPG was replaced for those authorities with education and personal social services responsibilities by floors and ceilings, which guaranteed that no authority would receive less than a 3.2 per cent. increase and that no authority could get more than a 6.5 per cent. increase.

Changes in the method of determining SSAs are contained in circular letters to Local Authorities, dated 2 December 1997, 2 December 1998, 25 November 1999 and 27 November 2000, copies of which are in the Library. For convenience, copies of the relevant extracts have been placed in the Library.

The table shows the net percentage change in SSAs against adjusted SSAs for the previous year for Oxfordshire over the period, together with the percentage change due to changes in methodology. It is inappropriate to compare actual SSA between years because of changes to the services financed by grants allocated using SSAs. Adjusted SSAs enable a like-for-like comparison between years.

% change against adjusted SSAs of which: % change due to methodology
1998–99 2.5 -2.3
1999–2000 3.9 -0.9
2000–01 5.4 0.0
2001–02 6.7 0.0

It is not possible to perform a similar analysis for aggregate external finance.

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