School standards minister Stephen Timms said the Department for Education & Skills is working very closely with the DTLR in taking forward proposals in the local government white paper.
In a keynote speech at the Society of Education Officers conference he said: 'I want to emphasise that we will be playing our part in making a reality the proposals in the local government white paper. These include improving the effectiveness of local government, giving authorities more freedom and more incentives.'
Mr Timms' comments have fuelled speculation that the DfES may negotiate a similar deal as the Department of Health for the proposed league tables' criteria for top-performing councils.
Health secretary Alan Milburn has agreed with local government minister Stephen Byers that top-performing councils must have a three-star rating for their social services (LGC, 25 January).
Mr Timms told delegates the new forum on funding would be set up by October, under the powers contained in the education bill.
'The Forum will advise on new funding issues and have a right to consultation on funding formulae, and make limited decisions on some items of expenditure,' he said.
The schools minister said a green paper on 14-19-year-old education was imminent and defended the government's position on ring-fencing education budgets.