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GUMMER TO LOOK AT 'DAMPING' FINANCE AS SSA CUSHION

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The Government is determined to ensure that there is a fair distribution of resources between local authorities nex...
The Government is determined to ensure that there is a fair distribution of resources between local authorities next year and will look carefully at the case for 'damping' finance, to cushion the effects of any necessary changes to achieve this, Environment Secretary John Gummer assured council chiefs when he met them this afternoon.

Following a meeting of the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance in London yesterday afternoon, Mr Gummer said: 'I am delighted that our current review of Standard Spending Assessments has been achieved with such close co-operation from local government, culminating in our discussions with their associations today.

'With a tough Public Spending Settlement necessary this year, this is clearly the right time to make sure that the distribution of resources between councils is as fair as possible and takes account of all the latest data available.

'Local authorities have made a multitude of different suggestions to improve the system. I have been much impressed by the openness with which the local authority associations have admitted the diversity of interest between themselves and between different authorities. Clearly, some have conflicted with each other - fairness is in the eye of the beholder - but the process has been notably constructive. I will now have to consider what changes need to be made in the light of the review, before this year's Settlement is announced.

'I listened with particular interest to the associations' case on providing 'damping' finance. However much our changes are driven by the need to be as fair as possible, there will still be relative 'winners' and 'losers' when the review is completed. I will need to look carefully at the position of councils where the review suggests to me the need for a lower level of spending. It may well be that some form of 'damping' finance is required by some councils to give them time to adjust.'
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