in the local government finance settlement* would boost local authorities'
capacity to improve vital services, but criticised further increases in
specific grants and warned that local authorities still faced substantial
LGA chair Jeremy Beecham said:
'I am very pleased with the overall increase of 8% in government support for
local councils and particularly welcome the government's guarantee that all
local authorities will receive at least a 3% increase in cash terms - the
first time that all councils have been guaranteed a grant increase above the
rate of inflation.
'However, I am alarmed to see that the number of specific grants has risen
yet again, when only last week the government promised to achieve a
reduction by 2005-6.
'Many local authorities will still be facing substantial underlying budget
and council tax pressures across many local services including education,
care for the elderly and children's services. These result not only from pay
award increases across the public sector, but also from demographic changes
and new targets in areas such as recycling and waste disposal. All this,
together with rising expectations of local councils' ability to deliver ever
improving services, adds up to substantial pressures on local budgets and
* See LGCnetfor full details.