Funding “sop” won’t alleviate massive budget pressure on Cornwall
Speaking after the Local Government Funding Settlement in the Commons yesterday, West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, warned that the Government would have to do more to bring Cornwall up to a fairer funding level.
Although the Local Government Funding Settlement provided Cornwall with a small increase in funds – £200,000 – the Council still expects to see a third of its Central Government funding removed over the next few years.
Mr George has accused the Government of having a funding formula which means that rural local authorities, like Cornwall, are “penalised” in contrast to their urban counterparts. Urban and metropolitan authorities receive 50% more Government money per head than rural Councils.
Mr George said: “These decisions have a very direct impact on the ability of Cornwall Council to protect bus services, social care, the road infrastructure, support our schools, maintain libraries and the many other functions of Local Government.
“The Government claims it is ‘closing the gap’ between urban and rural authorities, but the amount of money is miniscule. Whoever gets in next year will have to do better.”
Set out below is Mr George’s question to Local Government Minister, Kris Hopkins MP, and the Minister’s response.
Andrew George (St Ives) (LD): Cornwall, the poorest region in the country, is already doing more with less. Before the Conservative opposition in Cornwall runs another shameless campaign for a council tax freeze as the council faces a cut of a third of its budget over the next three years, causing carnage in the local authority, will the Minister reflect on his statement today that he is closing the gap between underfunded rural authorities, such as Cornwall, and urban authorities? At the rate he is going, he might close the gap by the next ice age. Will he please go back to the drawing board?
Kris Hopkins: An extra £4 million is definitely an increase—it was £11.5 million and is now £15.5 million. The Government are going a long way towards closing the gap. If the hon. Gentleman believes that more money is required, there is a mechanism by which that can be achieved, as the council can increase the council tax. He should trust the people of Cornwall and put it to the vote.