Headlines: December 5th, 1997

During the next six weeks councils will have the opportunity to make their case to Ministers for an increase in funding above that proposed in the local government finance settlement. In order to avoid unnecessary travelling, video conferencing facilities will be made available in Regional Government Offices to allow councils to argue their case with Ministers in London. This is the first time video conferencing has been used in this way and it will be interesting to see if those who maker a shorter journey to say Manchester of Newcastle have the same degree of success as those travel to London.Ministers are hoping that the settlement will be sufficiently attractive to avoid major confrontations. The settlement provides for total spending to rise by 3.8% and the Revenue Support Grant will be increased by 4.4%. The £835m to be spent on improving schools will be funded entirely from the centre and no demands will be made on council tax payers. Their is also a fairer system for distribution of the Revenue Support Grant which it is hope will remove the worst anomalies of the previous arrangements.

There will also be legislation to provide for the release of some £800m in additional capital expenditure England under the Capital Receipts Initiative. This money will be used to help the unemployed, build and refurbish homes for those in need and support the wider New Deal objectives.