PUBLIC SECTOR: London councils set for lobbying push

London councils are set for a lobbying offensive next month to push the capital's case in the face of potential cutbacks in central government funding.

Inner London councils such as Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster are considering hiring an agency to lobby ministers, MPs and opinion-formers on the composition of the latest 'funding formula' for grant distribution.

Up to 90 per cent of councils' funding is drawn from central government.

Grants are reviewed annually, but this is the first major review of the funding formula since Labour came to power in 1997.

The Association of London Government - the organisation that promotes the interests of all 33 of London's councils - claims councils in the capital could lose up to £600m to the regions in the review .

The ALG is set to spearhead a PR and lobbying push in advance of 30 September, when a consultation period ends.

An Office of the Deputy Prime Minister spokeswoman said: 'Every authority always feels they are being hard done by. It is impossible to predict winners and losers at this stage. There is no intention to redistribute funds in one direction or another.'

'We recognise authorities in London face real pressures, which any new formula will take into account. Feedback is welcome - that's why we're having this consultation period,' she added.

An ALG spokesman said: 'We are aiming to show that no other part of the country has the mix of challenges faced by London.

'We have wide-ranging deprivation, a rising population, public sector recruitment and retention problems and spiralling house prices,' he added.

Kensington & Chelsea comms director Penny Mordaunt said: 'Councils are still uncovering the implications. But I believe a lobbying strategy shouldn't end with the end-date of the consultation period.'

The final funding formula for April 2003 to April 2006 is likely to be revealed in November.

Edited by Joe Lepper.

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