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Oxfordshire County Council

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the methodology changes made since 1997 to the formulae for calculating the standard spending assessment and aggregate external finance figures for Oxfordshire County Council; and if he will make an assessment of the net financial effect of these changes. [6089]

Dr. Whitehead: There were 15 changes in the method of determining Standard Spending Assessments (SSAs) for the 1998–99 Local Government Finance Settlement; and 20 changes for the 1999–2000 Local Government Finance Settlement.

In 1999–2000 the Government introduced a new damping grant, Central Support Protection Grant (CSPG), to ensure that no authority received less grant than the year before, and that authorities which had education and personal social services responsibilities received at least 1.5 per cent more than the year before.

The July 1998 Local Government White Paper announced a 3-year review of Revenue Grant Distribution. It said that the Government did not expect to make fresh changes to the method of calculation of SSAs except where there are changes in the functions of councils, or the funding of particular services.

In 2000–01 there were therefore only limited adjustments to SSAs to accommodate the establishment of the Greater London Authority and related changes, most notably those arising from the alterations to the boundary of the Metropolitan Police District and the Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey police areas. CSPG was retained in 2000–01.

In 2001–02 there was only one change in the method of determining SSAs to reflect the transfer of funding for Nursery Education for four-year-olds. CSPG was replaced for those authorities with education and personal social services responsibilities by floors and ceilings, which guaranteed that no authority would receive less than a 3.2 per cent. increase and that no authority could get more than a 6.5 per cent. increase.

Changes in the method of determining SSAs are contained in circular letters to Local Authorities, dated 2 December 1997, 2 December 1998, 25 November 1999 and 27 November 2000, copies of which are in the Library. For convenience, copies of the relevant extracts have been placed in the Library.

The table shows the net percentage change in SSAs against adjusted SSAs for the previous year for Oxfordshire over the period, together with the percentage change due to changes in methodology. It is inappropriate to compare actual SSA between years because of changes to the services financed by grants allocated using SSAs. Adjusted SSAs enable a like-for-like comparison between years.

Oxfordshire
% change against adjusted SSAsof which: % change due to methodology
1998–992.5-2.3
1999–20003.9-0.9
2000–015.40.0
2001–026.70.0

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It is not possible to perform a similar analysis for aggregate external finance.

Regional Assemblies

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many written representations he has received from electors in the Henley constituency expressing support for an elected regional assembly in the south-east of England. [6088]

Dr. Whitehead: None.

SSA (Elderly Population)

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will change the method of calculation of the size of elderly population used in arriving at the standard spending assessment for local authorities. [6050]

Dr. Whitehead: Together with local government we are reviewing the grant distribution system. We published "Modernising Local Government Finance: A Green Paper" in September 2000, and will announce our conclusions on the most promising ways forward in a White Paper later this year. Alongside this, we are currently working on a range of options for changes to the standard spending assessment formulae, but have not yet reached any conclusions on what changes should be made.

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the method of calculating the size of elderly population in connection with the standard spending assessment, with special reference to resort authorities. [6051]

Dr. Whitehead: Estimates of the size of the elderly population for each local authority are made by the Registrar General. They are based on the 1991 Census, and rolled forward to more recent years to reflect births, deaths and migration.

The standard spending assessment formula for elderly residential care is based on the elderly population in households rather than the total elderly population (which includes those in institutions). The population estimates are therefore adjusted to reflect this. This is done by assuming that the proportion of the total elderly population that is in households for each authority is the same as that recorded in the 1991 Census.

The size of the elderly population is thus calculated in the same way for all authorities, including resort authorities.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many PFI transactions have been overseen by his Department in each of the last 10 years; what is his estimate of the cost savings made in each of these transactions in comparison with the public sector alternative; what are the outstanding payments to be made in relation to these transactions for each of the next 15 years; and if he will make a statement. [5714]

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Dr. Whitehead: Information about the PFI transactions that have been overseen by this Department since 1992 (10 years) is included in the table. However, any estimates of cost savings made in each of these transactions in comparison with the public sector alternative could be provided only at disproportionate cost to my department and, as agreed with the National Audit Office, payments to be made to contractors under PFI contracts are commercially confidential. Aggregate figures of estimated payments under all PFI contracts for the years 2001–01 to 2025–26 have been published in Table C18 of the Budget 2001 "Red Book"

DTLR PPP/PFI Projects: Remaining service payment

Name of projectYear contract signed
HA—Birmingham North Relief Road1992
LU—Northern Line Trains1995
Midland Metrolink1995
HA—A691996
HA—A501996
HA—A191996
HA—M401996
HA—A417/4191996
HA—A30/351996
HA—A1 (M)1996
HA—M1/A1 Link Road1996
Croydon Tramlink1996
Channel Tunnel Rail Link1996
Waltham Forest HAT1996
DLR Lewisham Extension1996
QEII Conference Centre1997
Manchester Metrolink1997
LU—Power1998
LU—Prestige1998
LU—Connect1999
LU—British Transport Police1999
Tower Hamlets HAT1999
VI—MOT Computerisation2000

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the economic penalties imposed on private sector firms in each of the last five years for failures to deliver in relation to key performance indicators in projects involving the private finance initiative; and if he will make a statement. [5715]

Dr. Whitehead: The following table provides details of DTLR's PFI and PPP contracts signed in the past five years and states whether the service is operational, and whether service charge payments have been withheld. Should PFI and PPP contractors fail to provide the contracted service they will not receive the full unitary service charge payment for the relevant month.

PFI and PPP contracts signed since 1997

Year contract signed Name of contract Status of serviceHas part of service charge payment been withheld?
PFI contracts
1997Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre— CateringOperationalNo
2000Highways Agency—A13 "Thames Gateway"(12)Under constructionn/a
2000Vehicle Inspectorate—MOT computerisationUnder constructionn/a
2001Highways Agency—Traffic Control CentreUnder constructionn/a
PPP contracts
1997Manchester Metrolink— extension to Salford Quays and Eccles(13)OperationalNo
1999Tower Hamlets Housing Action TrustOperationalNo
2001National Air Traffic Control Services (NATS) PPP(14)n/a

(12) The A13 Thames Gateway contract has transferred to Transport for London

(13) The Manchester Metrolink contract was let by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive and received substantial funding from DTLR.

(14) NATS have announced their preferred partner—Airlines Group (British Airways, British Midland, Virgin, Britannia, Monarch, Easy-Jet and Airtours) and is due to let the contract shortly.


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