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ASSOCIATIONS TO CALCULATE TOTAL JOB LOSSES

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Local authority associations are meeting this week to try to draw up figures of council job cuts so they can counte...
Local authority associations are meeting this week to try to draw up figures of council job cuts so they can counter government suspicions that this year's spending squeeze did not go far enough. On Tuesday the associations left the latest in a series of meetings with Environment Secretary John Gummer on the 1994-95 settlement warning that local government faces 'its worst financial crisis in years'.

The Cabinet EDX committee is expected to agree a 1994-95 total standard spending figure this week. But Mr Gummer would not be drawn on reports that TSS next year would be no more than this year's £41.17 billion, Association of County Councils Finance Undersecretary Mike Grealy said. Councils have estimated they will need to spend £45.4bn next year, after adjustments to take account of the government's policy of zero increases in pay bills. Throughout the negotiations councils have suspected the DoE is not convinced they had a particularly difficult time setting budgets within this year's limits, said Martin Pilgrim, finance undersecretary at the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. The associations were this week expected to consider with the LGMB how best to collect information on actual staffing levels. 'We need to have better evidence about the impact of last year's settlement on services and the real level of jobs', said Mr Grealy. The environment secretary rejected council requests at the meeting for an extension to the 31 December deadline for the capital receipts holiday, quoting the adverse implications for public spending.

Only £1.3bn of the anticipated £1.75bn has so far been released. He gave no indication about the likely direction of the review of standard spending assessments. But he stressed the government's commitment to dampening the worst effects of grant distribution changes next year.

A DoE paper, taken to this week's meeting of the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance, recommended the introduction of a damping grant for 1994-95 which counted within a council's budget requirement and was 'potentially liable to capping'.
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