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19 Nov 2002 : Column 85W—continued

Firefighters (Buckinghamshire)

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) full-time and (b) full-time equivalent firefighters there were in (i) Chesham and Amersham and (ii) Buckinghamshire in each of the last five years. [81170]

Mr. Leslie: Statutory responsibility for the provision of fire services rests locally with the fire authority, in this case the Buckinghamsire, and Milton Keynes Fire Authority. The readily available information is as follows.

Amersham and Chestham

Firefighter posts Firefighter posts
WholetimeRetainedWholetimeRetained
31 December 19971712012
31 March 19991412312
31 March 20001412012
31 March 20011412012
31 March 20021412012

Buckinghamshire
Firefighter strength

Wholetime(22)Retained(23)
31 December 1997300156
31 March 1999305152
31 March 2000307151
31 March 2001292152
31 March 2002304143

(22) In full-time equivalents

(23) In units of 24 hour cover


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Local Authority Performance Assessments

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether democratically elected members of an authority have a right to see the inspection team's report following a comprehensive performance assessment of a local authority while awaiting the identification of the final assessment category. [80591]

Mr. Raynsford: The Audit Commission had been charged with developing and implementing the methodology for the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, including a Corporate Assessment. Corporate Assessment tests how the council has established its aims and priorities and how they are succeeding in delivering them.

Once completed, the Corporate Assessment report will be a public document. Prior to publication it is shared with each council, as a confidential draft, in order to rectify any inaccuracies, to permit the authority to provide further evidence or to seek clarification on inspection findings before the report is finalised. All Corporate Assessment reports are then subject to an Audit Commission quality assurance process before they are completed and published. In respecting the confidential nature of the draft, it is a matter for each authority how widely it is shared with officers and elected members.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what level of revenue support grant has been received by the Isle of Wight Council in each of the last five years at 2002 prices (a) in total and (b) per head of population; and what the anticipated figures would be for 2003–04 under each of his consultative options for reform of the local government finance formula using Treasury inflation assumptions. [80986]

Mr. Raynsford: The tables show the amounts of Revenue Support Grant and redistributed national non-domestic rates, and the total of these two items, for the Isle of Wight in # millions and in 3s per head for the period 1998–99 to 2002–03.

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The figures are in real terms, based on the GDP deflator, with 2002–03 as the base year. The figures are based on the amount of grant actually received by the Isle of Wight for the year concerned, and so do not take into account any changes in function or responsibility.

Figures for 2003–04 under each of the consultative options could only be provided at disproportionate cost. In all events this would not give an accurate projection for 2003–4 as the consultative options were illustrated by reference to 2002–3 and did not incorporate data changes for 2003–4 which were not then

Available.

Table 1: Grant in real terms in # million

RSGNNDRRSF plus NNDR
1998–9949.11032.41481.253
1999–200048.66934.39983.068
2000–0148.75338.29387.046
2001–0253.65336.97090.623
2002–0348.40939.82288.231

Table 2: Grant per head in real terms in #

RSGNNDRRSG plus NNDR
1998–99391258650
1999–2000387273660
2000–01384302685
2001–02418288707
2002–03374308682

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what impact changes in the local government formula grant will have on public services in (a) Chesham and Amersham and (b) Buckinghamshire. [81169]

Mr. Raynsford: We will announce the new system for distributing formula grant, including detailed grant allocations for individual authorities, at the time of the provisional local government finance settlement which we expect to be around the start of December. Once the Government have allocated its grant, decisions about budgets and services are primarily for local councils to make. However, we have already guaranteed that no authority will face a cut in grant next year on a like for like basis, and we hope to do better than that when we announce the actual floors and ceiling scheme as part of the provisional settlement.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what impact changes in the local government formula grant will have on public services delivered by (a) Chiltern District Council and (b) Buckinghamshire County Council. [81173]

Mr. Raynsford: We will announce the new system for distributing formula grant, including detailed grant allocations for individual authorities, at the time of the provisional local government finance settlement which we expect to be around the start of December. Once the Government has allocated its grant, decisions about budgets and services are primarily for local councils to make. However, we have already guaranteed that we

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will use grant Xfloors" to ensure that no authority will face a cut in grant next year on a like for like basis, and we hope to do better than that when we announce the actual floors and ceilings scheme as part of the provisional settlement.

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of spending by (a) Buckinghamshire county council and (b) Chiltern district council (i) has been financed by council tax payers in each year since 1 January 1996 and (ii) is to be financed by council tax payers in 2002–03. [81179]

Mr. Raynsford: The proportions of revenue expenditure financed from the council tax for Buckinghamshire county council and Chiltern district council in the financial years 1995–96 to 2002–03 are set out in the following table:

Income from council tax as a percentage of spending

YearBuckinghamshire county council(24)Chiltern district council
1995–962751
1996–972857
1997–983167
1998–993465
1999–20003460
2001–013562
2001–02(25) 3461
2002–03(25) 3662

(24) For 1997–98 onwards this excludes the area of Milton Keynes borough council, which became unitary from 1 April 1997.

(25) 2001–02 and 2002–03 are budgeted figures; 1995–96 to 2001–01 are outturn figures.

Source:

1995–96 to 2000–01 Revenue Summary Returns.

2001–02 and 2002–03 Budget Estimate Returns.


Parish Clerks

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many parish clerks are employed in England. [80628]

Mr. Leslie: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate costs.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance he has issued on the training of parish clerks. [80629]

Mr. Leslie: We have not issued any guidance on the training of parish clerks, although the National Training Strategy has introduced a training package for parish clerks, prepared by the Countryside Agency and NALC. The Government strongly support this initiative and are contributing #2 million over three years.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the remuneration of parish clerks. [80630]

Mr. Leslie: We have not made any assessment of the remuneration of parish clerks.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of change in nature of the work of parish clerks. [80631]

Mr. Leslie: We recognise the implications that the new measures to strengthen the parish tier of local

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government have for parish clerks. The new Training Strategy which has been prepared by the Countryside Agency and NALC, to which the Government is contributing #2 million over three years, reflects the current role of clerks.

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the parish clerk workforce in terms of (a) age, (b) gender and (c) ethnicity. [80635]

Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not made any assessment of the parish clerk workforce recently. However, research undertaken in 1991 for the then Department of Environment sampled 1,000 parish councils in England. The research found that 59 per cent. of all clerks were female and employed part-time. However, this proportion decreases with the increase in the size of the council. The research found that in councils for parishes with a population of over 10,000 only 25 per cent. were female.

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Dr. Murrison: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the workload of parish clerks. [80636]

Mr. Leslie: We have not made any assessment of the current workload of parish clerks generally, although in our consultation document XQuality Town and Parish Councils", published on 7 November 2001, we proposed a basis for assessing their competence.


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