Somerset MPs welcome funding increase for local authorities

Parliament yesterday (Wednesday 7 February 2018) approved the funding settlement for English local authorities that will see a real terms increase in available resources over the next two years and give them access to over £200 billion from 2015 to 2020 to deliver the high-quality services their local communities need.

The settlement gives councils additional financial freedoms to deliver services for their most vulnerable residents while protecting council tax payers from excessive increases in their bills.

For the coming financial year (2018/2019), Somerset will have Core Spending Power of £340.6 million, an increase of £11.4 million or 3.5%.

Ahead of the Parliamentary debate, the Communities Secretary had announced extra funding to help local authorities meet the needs of vulnerable people and support services in rural areas.

Following strong lobbying from Marcus Fysh and other Somerset MPs, £16 million will be made available to councils providing services in rural areas, taking the total Rural Services Grant to £81 million - the highest it has ever been and a recognition of the cost of providing local services in sparsely populated areas.

For Somerset, this additional funding amounts to £2 million.

Also further to representations from local government and Members of Parliament on the provisional funding plans announced in December, a further £150 million will be available to those councils providing Adult Social Care.

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid said:

“Parliament has today approved a settlement that strikes a balance between relieving growing pressure on local government whilst ensuring that hard-pressed taxpayers do not face excessive bills. We have listened to representations made and delivered on these requests: two years of real terms increases in resources, more freedom and fairness, and greater certainty to plan and secure value for money.”

Yeovil MP, Marcus Fysh, welcomed the Settlement, saying: “This is good news for Somerset and other rural areas. I would like us to be amongst the next tranche of Business Rate retention trials too and will keep making the case for that.”

Government has also launched a review of local authorities’ needs and resources to enable a new funding system to be devised. Ministers are encouraging local authorities to respond to the consultation ahead of the deadline on 12 March 2018.