Written Answers. - Strategic Policy Committees.

Question:

664 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the cost involved in establishing the strategic policies committee system in all local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1160/99]

The costs of establishing strategic policy committees in city and county authorities are primarily a matter for each local authority concerned. Details of expenditure by local authorities in this regard are not available in my Department.

Local authority income to meet such costs would, in the main, comprise income from rates, fees and charges from goods and services and general purrpose grants. As a result of increased allocations which I have made from the Local Government (Equalisation) Fund in 1998 and from the Local Government Fund in 1999, local authorities will be greatly assisted in meeting any additional costs arising in establishing the strategic policy committee system.

Costs incurred in establishing and running the new committees will be balanced both by a streamlining of the committee system in local authorities and, ultimately, by the important benefits and objectives of the system, which include an enhanced policy-making role for elected members and closer involvement in policy formulation of the local community served by the authority.