More than 30 leaders of England’s largest councils have written an open letter urging the Prime Minister to see through his promise to ‘level up’ funding for the country’s ‘left behind’ places, with a new analysis revealing that shire county areas missing out on £3.2bn of funding per year compared to other parts of England.
One of the leaders was Coun Carl Les of North Yorkshire County Council who said they wanted to “remind” Boris Johnson now that he is in number 10 of some of the pledges that he made while he was on the campaign trail.
The County Councils Network (CCN), whose councils represent 25m people, are calling on the government to provide emergency funding for councils next year, and a ‘cast iron’ commitment to implement fairer funding reforms from 2021.
Due to historically lower funding and cuts to core grants, local councils in England’s rural and shire counties are the lowest funded authorities; receiving just £240 per person for public services such as social care, children’s social services, public health, bin collections and libraries – this is 60 per cent less compared to residents in inner London receive (£601) and 46 per cent less compared to councils in metropolitan and city authorities (£419)
New analysis from CCN reveals that if the 36 county areas that make up the CCN were funded at the same per person average in England, they would be receiving an additional £3.2bn per year.
Speaking last night to The Yorkshire Post, Coun Les said he didn’t want funding to be taken from other authorities and called for a “rising tide to float all boats”.
He said: “There are lots of priorities that we want to deal with but there are three big priorities at the moment.
“Fifty per cent of our budget goes on looking after the elderly which is a nice problem to have as it is good that people are living longer but as they are - needs are becoming more complex and expensive and we need some help with that.
“The other, and 30 per cent, is children with needs, there is significant growth there and again we need help from government.
“The final bit is everything else, which includes the things that people ask us about the most in parish and public meetings, which is roads and footways.
“Good government is when county councils and Whitehall work together and our MPs are excellent in Yorkshire. Now we want to take this opportunity to make the point to the Prime Minister who has a background in local government himself.”
The previous government pledged to seek to re-address the balance in funding between different areas and had been reviewing the ways councils are currently funded through the ‘Fair Funding Review’ - introduced following intense lobbying by county authorities and their MPs.
The proposals from the review were due to be implemented from next April. CCN had welcomed initial proposals set out by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government, led by Rishi Sunak MP who has since moved to the Treasury as Chief Secretary.
However, there is uncertainty as to whether or when the review will take forward these proposals.
An MHCLG spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has set out his vision for levelling up our country by giving local leaders greater powers, and this year alone we’ve given local authorities access to £46.4bn.”