Settlement gives councils ‘more control’ says Rudd

Local MP Amber Rudd has welcomed the news that councils will receive a real terms increase in funding for vital local services.

The provisional local government finance settlement, published yesterday, gives councils a real-terms increase in core spending power for 2019 to 2020 – up from £45.1 billion to £46.4 billion.

MsRudd says: “The £1.3 billion funding boost allows councils like East Sussex County Council and Hastings Borough Council to deliver the services residents need while protecting them from unfair hikes in their council tax bills.

“This increase follows significant Government investment in local services announced at this year’s Budget. The Government is giving councils £650 million for social care next year – building on the £240 million announced to relieve winter pressures on the NHS, £420 million to tackle potholes and £84 million more for children’s social care.

“The Government is supporting opportunity for every community across the country by increasing business rates retention to 75 per cent from 2020. This gives local authorities even more incentive to grow the local economy so East Sussex County Council, Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council keep more of the revenue raised locally to spend on local services for hard working people.”

Ms Rudd says she is ‘delighted’ to see the Government delivering a settlement which she says, “paves the way for a fairer, more self-sufficient and resilient future for local government and a brighter future for the people and places they serve.”

She says: “This settlement delivers a real-terms increase in spending for local authorities in 2019 to 2020 and gives them more control over the money they raise too, while protecting residents against excessive council tax rises. This is particularly important with East Sussex County Council, who will be receiving £10 million more in 2019-2020 than for the previous year. This funding will go towards helping with the increasing cost of adult social care.”

Councillor Keith Glazier, East Sussex County Council leader, said: “We welcome the announcement from the secretary of state that East Sussex will be one of 15 pilot areas to retain 75 per cent of business rates growth raised locally.

“The move will enable the county to benefit more from the area’s economic growth and we expect the move to generate around £3.5 million of extra funding which will be shared among county, district and borough councils in East Sussex and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

“We need to take time to work through the detailed documents before we get a clearer picture of what it means for the county, and final proposals will be reported to cabinet in January.

“We are anxious to have an input into the Government’s proposals for a fair funding settlement which is sustainable in the long-term and takes into account the particular challenges resulting from the county’s large and growing elderly population and our limited business and transport infrastructure.”

Leader of Hastings Borough Council and Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary candidate Peter Chowney says: “I welcome the additional funding for East Sussex County Council for adult social care. I assume they’ll now be able to reverse some of their most damaging cuts and restore funding to organisations such as Homeworks to support homeless people, and reverse their decision to close the Isabel Blackman Centre, an essential resource that provides daycare services for elderly people in Hastings.

But as usual, the government’s additional funding has been targeted in a way that makes sure it doesn’t go anywhere near the most deprived areas. Hastings received nothing at all. 

This is a deeply divisive way to distribute funding, along party political lines rather than where the need really is and where the biggest cuts to funding have already occurred – Hastings Borough Council has seen far bigger cuts to its budget since 2010 than any other council in East Sussex. 

“And it’s nowhere near enough to solve the chronic underfunding crisis in local government. Over the next few years, some council will simply run out of money.  Government ministers are throwing councils a few crumbs from their table, when a whole new loaf is needed.”

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