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ROW OVER 'POLITICISATION' OF SCOTTISH GRANTS

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A local government expert has sparked fury within the Scottish executive with his observation that recently-announc...
A local government expert has sparked fury within the Scottish executive with his observation that recently-announced deprivation grants amounting to£21.5m have in the main benefited Labour councils in the west of Scotland, where three cabinet ministers have constituencies.

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.'

However, in his paper, Prof Midwinter claim that the announcements of special deprivation allowances to 11 authorities appears to pre-empt such a review.

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.'

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