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STRAW CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF GRANT SYSTEM

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Shadow environment secretary Jack Straw today called for an independent review of the standard spending assessment ...
Shadow environment secretary Jack Straw today called for an independent review of the standard spending assessment system for council grants.

Speaking at a Commons press conference on the launch of the Local Government Information Unit's report 'The Grant Gap', he said: 'The present SSA system is both bent and flawed. Its credibility has been undermined by serious methodological problems, and by blatant political manipulation by ministers. It is also now having to do a job for which it was never designed - establishing capping levels fro each authority.

'This LGIU report shows how unfair is the system. So brazen is the way ministers have used it to help their friends like Westminister, and to stack the deck against Labour authorities, that these days they answer to charges of bias only with a cynical smirk.

'But this is public money. The public have a right to know why labour council councils, for example, only received a 2.2% increase in grant, whilst Tory counties go 3.7% and why there is no recognition for long term unemployment within the system.

'I have written to Michael Howard to demand a fully independent review of SSAs. The internal review will command no respect, since ministers will be acting as judge and jury in their own cause'.
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