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Hansard 17 Feb:Column 1089-1091 ...
Hansard 17 Feb:Column 1089-1091

The government is to issue a green paper on options for changing the revenue support grant formula by summer, school standards minister Estelle Morris announced to MPs.

She was replying to David Heath, Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome, who asked for a statement on inequalities in education standing spending assessment per pupil between local education authorities.

Ms Morris said: 'The government are well aware of the widespread concern about the fairnes of the current formula for funding local authorities. We announced in November 1998 a review in partnership with local government to look for a way of distributing revenue support grant that is simpler, more stable, more robust and fairer than the present arrangements for standard spending assessments.

'We will issue a green paper on options for change by the summer'.

She agreed with Mr Heath, who said it was unfair for the government to fund every pupil in Somerset by£1,500 a year less than a child 'in a leafy suburb of London'.

'He is absolutely right. There is no justification for the figures that he cited. As soon as we took power, we started discussing a change in the formula with local authorities. In the first year we were unable to reach agreement because not one local authority said that it had too generous an SSA. We have put in train consultation and work that will bring about change'.

The problems of SSAs did not begin in 1997, but the previous government failed year after year to tackle them.

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