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Local Government Finance

February 3, 2010

Oral Question on 03/02/2010

The Secretary of State will realise that for many local authorities one of the biggest clouds on the horizon is the census in 2011. Many of us, particularly those of us in inner-city boroughs, recognise that there are great concerns about the rigour with which the census is being put in place, and that that will have a major impact on the grants that are made not just this year but for some years to come. The issue applies to hon. Members from all parts of the House. Will he explain what the Department is doing to ensure that the census is as rigorous as possible in order to ensure that there is a fair division of the spoils for many years to come?

Answered by John Denham

The hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly fair point. Usually in this annual debate, the concern is that population figures are out of date, as opposed to about to be updated. The census is therefore enormously important, as is the ongoing work, on which the Office for National Statistics is consulting, about better ways of capturing more rapid short-term changes in population of the sort that we saw in the middle of the last decade. His point is well taken and well made, but I assure him that everybody concerned with the census is working enormously hard to ensure that it produces the accurate basis on which future local government projections can be carried out.