Scilly's Council joins call for fairer funding
The Council of the Isles of Scilly has joined with others across the South West to call for a fairer funding deal from central government.
Councils in Scilly, Cornwall, Plymouth, Somerset, Torbay and Dorset have signed an open letter to request more money for stretched rural authorities who are under pressure to increase Council Tax. The open letter signals the "level of discontent in the South West about the challenging financial landscape local authorities are facing". Cornwall Council is now encouraging local MPs to take its Fair Funding #StandUpForCornwall campaign to Parliament to fight for fairer funding and to discuss the region's financial challenge with the Secretary of State and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Cornwall Council Leader Adam Paynter said: “In Cornwall funding for our children’s services is in the bottom 7 out of 56 Unitary Authorities. We also expect Cornwall’s population of over 85s to increase by 31% more than in the rest of the UK in the next 20 years. This will put more pressure on services to protect the most vulnerable in society.
“My colleagues across the South West face similar challenges. This letter makes it clear that the funding settlement for local authorities is inadequate. The system is unsustainable and needs fundamental reform.”
Read the open letter below:
South West Peninsula Councils today called for a fairer funding deal from Government as each Council is under pressure to increase Council tax rates.
The Local Government Association has already warned that the majority of Councils will have little choice but to increase bills, in order to protect vital services amid a £2.3billion "funding gap" in the social care system. The sticking plaster of an extra £150million for one year only isn’t a cure.
The Chair of the LGA, Lord Porter, has urged the government to consider the challenges facing councils and offer them better funding, saying many councils are now beyond the point where council tax income can be expected to plug the funding gaps they face.
We share Lord Porter’s concerns that the quality of services provided by local authorities could suffer regardless of an injection of funds from council tax, as the funding gap will still exist.
We recently saw a further example of the current disparity in maintenance funding for national and local roads.
New analysis by the LGA last week revealed the Government plans to spend £1.1 million per mile to maintain its strategic road network between 2015 and 2020. In comparison, it will provide councils with just £21,000 per mile for the local roads they maintain over the same period.
This has prompted a call for the Government to reinvest 2 pence per litre of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance, which would generate £1 billion a year for councils to spend on improving roads and filling potholes.
These examples clearly illustrate the funding challenges being faced by local authorities, and for the need for there to be meaningful reforms to the way funding is allocated.
This is not about political blame. Whether you live in Devon, Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, Plymouth, Somerset, Torbay or Camden, you should be able to access the same standard of services but there is a fast increasing gap that disadvantages the Peninsula, based on the way national funding is allocated.
We have all faced significant budget challenges and these will only get harder as central Government funding reduces even further by 2020.
We are united in our desire to not pass on tax increases to local residents to fill the gap in funding, but without central government funding formulas changing, the pressure on local residents will continue.
The letter is signed by the Leaders of Cornwall Council, Somerset County Council, Torbay Council, Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council, Dorset County Council and the Isles of Scilly Council.