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SPENDING ASSESSMENT DECISIONS WILL BE MADE IN WEEKS

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Ministers and their officials are being bombarded with studies and charts by rival bands of local councillors who w...
Ministers and their officials are being bombarded with studies and charts by rival bands of local councillors who want to make sure their local authorities don't miss out under any review of rules governing the standard spending assessment formulas.

The Economist (p37) reports that the 'Most sparsely populated Councils Group' led by a council in rural Lincolnshire, wants to change the formulas to give more compensation for the extra cost of providing services to a dispersed population.

The 'Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities', led by Gateshead MBC, wants the formulas changed to provide extra money yo boroughs whose school pupils do badly in exams.

The Association of Local Government is fighting to keep the extra cash provided for pupils from lone-parent and immigrant families, and wants a new allowance for the higher turnover of pupils in London schools.

But time is running out for the various groups of councillors to make their case. Ministers are expected to reach a decision in the next few weeks and to publish their plans, perhaps in November.

Tony Travers, a local government expert at the London School of Economics, believes the government favours a shift from the 'rich' south-east to the 'poor' north.

But Mr Travers says this would also move cash (and therefore services) towards suburban and rural districts - just as another arm of government - the Urban Task Force, is dreaming up measures to entice people to move back from these districts to the inner cities.

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