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CAMBRIDGESHIRE KEEPS UP AREA COST PRESSURE

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With the government due to publish its White Paper on Local Government finance later this month, Cambridgeshire CC ...
With the government due to publish its White Paper on Local Government finance later this month, Cambridgeshire CC has repeated calls for the Area Cost Adjustment Scheme to be amended in time for next year's budget.

Councillors have been warned that if the government sticks to its published spending plans, the outlook for services across Cambridgeshire is bleak unless the Area Cost Adjustment scheme

is changed. The scheme gives extra government cash to south-eastern local authorities - but not Cambridgeshire.

Services in Cambridgeshire have faced cuts in eight of the last nine years.

An independent review of the Area Cost Adjustment scheme undertaken early last year concluded that it was flawed and that Cambridgeshire should be awarded an extra£10m of government grant each year. Further research on the scheme is presently being done, but the outcome is unlkely to be known until the autumn.

Council leader Keith Walters said: 'The outcome of the review is crucial for Cambridgeshire especially if, as has been trailed, the

method by which they distribute cash to councils is then frozen for three years.

'The present system is seriously flawed. How can it be fair to give schools in neighbouring Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Essex£200 more for every pupil than those in Cambridgeshire receive?'

Liberal Democrat Leader Sal Brinton said: 'Two generations of children have now passed through our schools underfunded while successive governments have dithered and prevaricated. Tony Blair says his priorities are education, education, education. We want action, action, action.'

Labour leader Janet Jones said: 'Getting the Area Cost Adjustment and a fairer deal for Cambridgeshire is one subject on which there is all-party support.

'Cambridgeshire is awarded less government cash per head of population than any other county council in England. All we're asking for is a fair deal.'

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