Unfair rural funding condemned by Devon finance chief

County Hall

Posted on: 16 February 2018

The unfair funding of rural counties over urban areas has been condemned by the deputy leader of Devon County Council.

John Clatworthy, who is also the Cabinet member for finance, said Devon’s

Cllr John Clatworthy

residents were suffering from historic under-funding.

He said the budget would have been very different if the county was funded at the national average.

“Devon is disadvantaged on both revenue and capital funding,” he said.

Devon residents received £161 per person less Government funding than their urban counterparts.

Devon’s schools got £268 less per pupil than the national average.

And in Public Health, Devon got £35 per person compared with a national average of £57.

“If Devon received average funding under those three headings, there would be an additional £211 million available for services,” said Mr Clatworthy.

“When it comes to capital funding for transport infrastructure, the South West is the second lowest funded in the country and for every £100 spent in the South East, the South West region receives £7.50,” said Mr Clatworthy.

“We urgently need resources allocated for rail and road infrastructure.”

But, for 2017/18, the county council would still be spending £477 million on services.

There would be an increase of £13 million in the budget for adult care and health and £6.5 million extra for children’s services to reflect increased demand.

There would also be a one-off sum of £6.5 million made available for highways, drainage and patching.

Mr Clatworthy said the council had decided to accept the Government’s offer of an increase of two per cent in council tax to help fund adult social care and health on top of the 2.99 per cent for general services.

“With reduced Government support and increased demand and cost pressures on adult social care and health and children’s services, we need the certainty of income to protect services as caring for the elderly and disabled together with children, are our highest priorities.

“But we also need to take into account the ability to pay. It is a great responsibility to set taxes on fellow citizens and it has to be exercised with caution against the need to provide essential services.

“We cannot control demand for our services or the weather only our own costs – which it is vital we do.

“Against this background, we feel it necessary, reluctantly, to promote an increase this year of 4.99 per cent which will provide £18 million of additional funding.

“This represents an increase of £63.27 on a Band D property or £1.22 a week, making it £1,331.19.

“Longevity, which is very welcome, creates a whole set of new problems to deal with and the Government needs to make more resources available.

“It is no good the Government reducing support on one hand and expecting local government to raise the additional funds locally on the other.”

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Posted in: Politics