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The Scottish Office-commissioned report on local government expenditure, published on Friday (see LGCNet 14 Feb), r...
The Scottish Office-commissioned report on local government expenditure, published on Friday (see LGCNet 14 Feb), raises more questions than it answers, COSLA president Keith Geddes has said.

Cllr Geddes commented: 'This does not take a great deal further than COSLA's own interim study - it confirms all the issues raised in our report and the need for further extensive study.

He went on: 'It tells us that there are higher levels of spending in Scotland, something we have never disputed. But all council spending is within limits set by the secretary of state.

'The report also highlights the issue of charging, but does not show that to bring Scottish charges into line with England, an average increase in charges of 50% would be needed. Is this really what Mr Forsyth wants for the Scottish people?

'The importance of loan charges is also identified. If these are taken out of the equation, local government spending is no higher than in the health service, which the secretary of state also controls.'

He added: 'If local councils are 'overspending' as the secretary of state alleges, why does he apply a different standard to the health service? He can't have it both ways.

'Mr Forsyth also seems keen to note the comments in the report on the importance of policy decisions by councils as a factor in the higher spending levels.

'Local policy decisions are what good local government is all about - strong local democracy, making decisions relevant to local communities, and all within government-set spending limits.'

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