Nus Ghani MP has welcomed the Government’s response to the consultation on the provisional Local Government Financial Settlement, which was announced by the Communities Secretary yesterday afternoon.
Nus, as a member of the Rural Fair Share Campaign group of MPs, had called for fairer funding between rural and urban areas, and as a result the Secretary of State has announced a Fair Funding Review to consider the differing needs of different areas.
The cross-party group of MPs have been calling for an impartial and objective approach to local government funding. They claim on average rural residents pay £81 more in council tax than their urban counterparts – despite receiving £131 less funding from central Government.
Following the pressure that was put on the Government, the Rural Services Delivery Grant will also now rise from £15.5 million this year to £80.5 million next year, an increase of £60.5 million compared to the provisional settlement announced last year.
East Sussex County Council will now receive additional transitional grant funding from central government of £2.70 million in 2016/17 and £2.70 million in 2017/18. Wealden District Council will receive an extra £321,084 in 2016/17 and £242,715 in 2017/18, compared with the provisional settlement.
Last month, all political group leaders on East Sussex County Council wrote to David Cameron to voice their ‘significant concerns’ over funding cuts, which they said would ‘significantly reduce the quality of life’ for many people in the county.
Nus Ghani said:
I am pleased that the Government has responded positively to persistent and ongoing representations from me and my colleagues at all levels of government as we stood up for Wealden and fought for East Sussex. Rural areas, particularly those such as ours which have ageing populations, require a higher level of resources to be able to provide the services our constituents need and demand.
In the short term I welcome the increase in transition funding available to local councils over the next two years, and in the long term I am optimistic that the Fair Funding Review will lead to more equitable treatment for places like Wealden and East Sussex. I congratulate the Government on listening to the concerns raised and responding positively to them.
Councillor Bob Standley, Leader of Wealden District Council, commented:
Wealden District Council welcomes the extra transitional funding to Local Government and particularly welcomes the increased funding for rural authorities. The extra cost of supplying services to rural areas has been overlooked for many years and the review in the way future funding will be distributed is much appreciated and long overdue.
Wealden has also campaigned for planning to be self-funded from fees charged to developers rather than subsidised by Council Tax Payers. Being allowed to increase fees in line with inflation is a step in the right direction. Secretary of State Greg Clark has listened to Local Government and we thank him for the measures he has taken.