Financial Statistics: General Considerations
All local authorities in the UK are obliged by law to make available, in the form of published accounts, information about their financial activities. This review of local government financial statistics is not about such publications. It deals only with those “accounts” and tabulations which have a national or regional interest or application and it is this width of application which, along with other factors, gives them their character of statistics. In describing the statistics of the National Accounts, Harold Copeman [B.2] makes this point: “In all cases it must be remembered that we are not describing the operations of a firm under a single or coherent management, that produces audited accounts, but with very many independent firms and individuals, plus public authorities, and that although accounts are used when possible, we are dealing with statistics and with a considerable degree of estimation”. This, mutatis mutandis, is equally true of local authority financial statistics. Again and again, in producing them we have recourse to a host of statistical devices such as: the rounding of figures; allowing for non-response; producing provisional outturn figures to effect timely publication; interpolating part year figures from complete year data. Unlike National Accounts statistics however, local authority financial statistics come in two distinct forms: (a) summary statistics (e.g. at national, regional, class of authority level and (b) individual authority statistics provided in national or regional publications. In interpreting national summary statistics it has to be remembered that since 1978/79 these have related to the local authority sector of the economy (”local authority” sector as distinct from personal, central government, public corporation, companies and financial institution sectors). Thus, inter authority transactions or “within sector flows of funds” have, as far as possible, been eliminated.
KeywordsLocal Authority Central Government Rate Support Rate Fund Capital Account
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.