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FEARS RAISED OVER SSA CHANGE AS GOVERNMENT DEADLINE LOOMS

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Senior local government figures fear time is running out for the government to fulfill its pledge to replace the st...
Senior local government figures fear time is running out for the government to fulfill its pledge to replace the standard spending assessment.

Local government secretary Stephen Byers pledged to replace the existing system by 1 April next year. But Local Government Association economic and environmental director Neil Kinghan and Association of London Government finance director Stephen Fitzgerald have written to the DTLR expressing their anxieties over the timescale.

Mr Fitzgerald said: 'We have concerns about the outcomes and process of the review. Ministers should have a range of options, but there should be time for all the technical options to be laid on the table.'

Ministers do not have to make a decision until early autumn, but the debate is likely to be frozen in June.

Brent LBC finance director Stephen Hughes said: 'It is possible that the aspirations to change the SSA are over-stated.'

He said there are likely to be changes to education funding, the area cost adjustment and funding for environment protection and cultural services.

The local government white paper in 1998 announced a three-year moratorium on changes to the standard spending assessment.

This was extended by a further year, but has still failed to propose any changes to the system, according to Rita Hale of Rita Hale Associates (LGC, 5 April).

Mark Lambirth, former local government finance director at the DTLR, completed some initial plans to replace SSA before moving to the transport department. His replacement Bob Linnard was unavailable to comment on the progress.

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