In a paper submitted to the executive, Arthur Midwinter, of Strathclyde University, claims councils are already concerned over this 'politicisation' of grant distribution and warns that if this 'partial approach' continues, the impact on central-local government relations will be dividion, not consensus.
But Jack McConnell, finance minister, said: 'Professor Midwinter's claims of political bias in the distribution of deprivation payments are absolute nonsense. The extra£21.5m in deprivation allowances were distributed to councils using impartial information based on the average numbers of people claiming income support.'
He added: 'We are currently reviewing how deprivation and poverty is assessed and I hope that process will have been completed in time for the 2000-02 local government allocation.'
He continues: 'This development is clearly contrary to the spirit and principles of grant distribution which requires such allowances to be both plausible and evidence-based. In practice the decision appears to pre-empt the results of the review.'