Central government has ignored pleas for fairer funding for Cambridgeshire in its provisional Local Government Settlement announcement - leaving the county as the third worst off in the country.
Councillor Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said they were disappointed by the decision and accused the government of trying to “paper over an unfair national formula” by allowing councils to raise the amount of council tax residents pay.
Cambridgeshire together with other shire counties across the country have been campaigning for a fairer deal when it comes to central government funding.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced he will shortly publish the government’s long awaited fair funding review consultation. This will consider the way the formula is calculated and any changes needed to more accurately reflect the current position across the UK.
The current formula, which has remained unchanged for many years, sees the average London Borough receiving £75m a year more than Cambridgeshire, and even the average UK county council receiving £13.7m a year more.
As part of his statement Mr Javid announced the amount councils will be able to keep from business rates in future years will only rise to 75 per cent of the amount raised locally instead of the expected 100 per cent, and no extra funding to cover the local government staff pay rise of two per cent.
However, he did announce the planned reductions in the Rural Support Grant in 2018-19 and 19-20 will no longer go ahead, and although this doesn’t benefit county councils, it will offer some benefit to district councils covering rural areas – including Fenland. He also raised the limit on the amount of council tax that could be raised without a referendum by one per cent to 2.99 per cent.
Overall the announcement looks set to keep Cambridgeshire – the fastest growing county in the UK – around the third worst funded.
“We are disappointed there has been no overall uplift in Central Government funding to acknowledge the increased pressures we face due to growing demand – particularly for adult social care,” said Coun Steve Count.
“Furthermore lifting the cap by one per cent on council tax, so that local residents can be taxed more to paper over an unfair national formula, hardly seems fair on the hard pressed taxpayers of this county.”