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COSLA SUSPICIOUS OF COSTS SURVEY

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The Scottish Office has appointed consultants Coopers & Lybrand and PIEDA to conduct a study into why local authori...
The Scottish Office has appointed consultants Coopers & Lybrand and PIEDA to conduct a study into why local authority spending in Scotland is 43% higher than in England.

Following a meeting with representatives from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities last week, local government minister George Kynoch said the study should examine any differences in the range and standard of services in England, Wales and Scotland.

It will look into cost differences due to internal factors such as staffing levels or conditions of service and external factors such as distance and population change.

Mr Kynoch highlighted the level of special responsibility allowances paid to Scottish councillors as warranting special investigation.

COSLA president Keith Geddes said councils remained 'deeply suspicious' about the study.

He accused Mr Kynoch of backing down on his earlier agreement to work alongside COSLA in examining relative levels of spending. Mr Kynoch had 'strengthened my suspicions that he will use this study to reduce local government expenditure levels in Scotland to those in England and Wales', Mr Geddes said.

COSLA repeated its claim that official spending projections for 1997-98 suggest council taxes could rise by as much as 12% next year. It is drawing up terms of reference for its own study.

Coopers & Lybrand and PIEDA have been asked to produce a draft report by the end of October.

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