Finance settlement due this week

The government is set to confirm its financial settlement for local authorities amid growing concern that councils are struggling to deliver vital services.

The final local government finance settlement for 2018/2019 is due to be announced on Wednesday (7 February).

It comes days after Northamptonshire County Council announced an immediate ban on spending.

    See also: Council imposes immediate spending controls

Northamptonshire County Council became the first local authority in 20 years to issue a Section 114 notice on Friday (2 February).

It means no new expenditure is permitted, with the exception of statutory services for safeguarding vulnerable people.


Other local authorities are also under pressure.

The Rural Services Network has repeatedly called for a fairer funding system for rural local authorities which often face higher costs to deliver services.

Rural local authorities are set to lose one third of their central government funding, it has warned.

If confirmed, the move will pile further pressure on already over-stretched public services, said RSN chief executive Graham Biggs.

Senior RSN representatives have held high-level talks with government representatives to discuss the provisional finance settlement.

    Rural and urban

Under the original Four-Year Final Local Government Settlement, rural areas were set to lose over 31% of their central Government funding, while urban areas would lose just 22%.

But the recently announced Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2018-19 made the situation even worse.

Mr Biggs said: "Rural residents get a really rough deal. On average, they earn less than their urban counterparts and pay more in council tax – but receive less government grant and receive fewer services which cost those residents more to access."

Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski raised the issue of fairer rural funding in the House of Commons last Wednesday (31 January).

"A group of us from the shire counties are very concerned that there is not enough money for rural counties like ours, where adult social care costs are spiralling out of control," he said.

    Black hole

"My own county is facing a black hole of £10m because of adult social care costs.

"What message should I take back to the leader of my council?

Cabinet minister David Lidington responded by saying that the government haD made an extra £2 billion of funding available to local authorities for social care.

He added: "Obviously, local authorities are currently deciding whether to use the more flexible precepting powers they have in respect of social care.|

Mr Lidington urged Mr Kawczynski to continue talking to government ministers about the situation in Shropshire.


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