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REPORT OF LOCAL AUTHORITY CURRENT EXPENDITURE STUDY PUBLISHED

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A report by Coopers & Lybrand and PIEDA comparing local authority current expenditure levels in Scotland, England a...
A report by Coopers & Lybrand and PIEDA comparing local authority current expenditure levels in Scotland, England and Wales has today been published.

The report has been sent to all Scottish MPs, COSLA and all Scottish councils.

Scottish secretary Michael Forsyth will give his reaction to the report in his speech during a debate on 'Housing and Local Government Finance' at a meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee in Montrose on Monday 17 February.

Commenting on the report, Mr Forsyth said:

'This is an extremely important report. The consultants have carried out what is almost certainly the most comprehensive study of local authority spending levels north and south of the Border. The report is an invaluable contribution to the debate about the future funding of Scottish local government.

'The consultants have clearly gone to great lengths to ensure comparability of data. Having done so, they have concluded that, across a wide range of services, local authority expenditure levels are higher - and in a number of cases very much higher - than in both England and Wales. This confirms what the government have always said.

'The report also questions the extent to which issues such as sparsity, deprivation and unemployment can, as is often argued, be a significant factor in the justification of higher local government spending levels in Scotland. More work needs to be done on this in Stage 2 of the Study, but it is significant that the consultants have commented on the importance of policy decisions by councils themselves as a factor in explaining the higher levels of expenditure in Scotland.

'I hope that there will now be a sensible debate about the consultants' findings.'

-- Copies of the main report are available from The Stationery Office Bookstore, 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, priced£10.

Copies of the summary are available free from The Scottish Office Central Research Unit, 2J East, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh (0131 244 7562).

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