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'WANDSWORTH IS BIGGEST LOSER' IN COUNCIL SPENDING SHAKE-UP

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Local government minister David Curry announced yesterday that Wandsworth - the flagship Conservative borough - has...
Local government minister David Curry announced yesterday that Wandsworth - the flagship Conservative borough - has fared worst in the redistribution of local government grants, reports The Financial Times (p7).

The paper says the government has brought in a £280m 'buffering' scheme to ensure that no council's grant will fall by more than 2%. But 82 local authorities will suffer a reduction of at least this amount, it says.

Wandsworth faces a 10.6% cut in its standard spending assessment (SSA); and is followed in London by Hammersmith and Fulham (9.8%); Havering (8.6 %); Brent (8.5%) and Lambeth (7.5%).

The distribution formula has been changed so the weight given to the proportion of ethnic minorities in an area has been reduced, says the FT. But measures of homelessness and unemployment have been included for the first time.

The Guardian says council tax could rise as much as 20% for inner London households losing transitional relief from the poll tax.

It quotes Jeremy Beecham from the Association of Metropolitan Authorities: 'There will have to be massive cuts in front-line services, especially non-statutory ones like meals on wheels.'

The Guardian says the top overall losers are: Wandsworth; Birmingham; Lambeth; Hackney; Brent; Kensington; Haringey; Ealing; Newham; Wolverhampton; Leicester; Waltham Forest; Westminster; Islington; Coventry; Sandwell; Luton; Croydon and Blackburn.

The paper says the changes benefit northern regions with historically poorer health and higher unemployment and rural areas. The south, particularly London, loses out.. Bolsover in the Midlands gets a 16.5% rise; rural south Somerset is up 7.8%.

Councillors in Liverpool warned of massive cuts tied to a 20% council tax increase to meet the new capping limit.

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