Thursday, 14 January 2016

Council Funding

For too long Cornwall has not received its fair share of funding from central government with a disproportionate amount of money being directed to inner cities in the North.  

We are starting to see some progress in challenging this. In education, the formula is outdated and has always favoured local authorities in urban areas around cities. In the last Parliament we put an extra £390 million to help top up areas that were under funded and the Prime Minister has made clear that he now wants to see a wholesale reform of the formula so that it targets need rather than being based on historic inaccuracies. We also managed to protect the Devon & Cornwall policing budget this autumn, meaning the force will now be £50 million a year off better than expected. 

Just before Christmas, the Department for Communities & Local Government published their provisional Local Governance Finance Settlement for 2016/17, which sets out the amount of funding local authorities will receive from central government. By 2019/20 Cornwall Council will have total resources available of £445m, as opposed to £432.9m in 2016/17.

There were some elements that are less welcome such as a reduction in the short term of some of the rural weightings that had existed before.  However, this should be offset by an increase in the help given to rural councils and the prioritising of Adult Social Care through a new 2 percent Adult Social Care precept on council tax.  If adopted in full, this would mean a £34.4 million increase in Adult Social Care funding by 2019/20, providing Cornwall Council with more resources to draw upon to care for those who require long term support. 

There is still more to be done.  On the NHS, although the budget nationally has been increased I think there are still some issues around the way the national formula is applied.  Cornwall has a larger elderly population than other parts of the country, and more recognition should be given to this.  But on some fronts at least things are moving in the right direction.