The MP for Berwick has expressed her relief at additional funding for Northumberland over the next two years, while the council leader says it is welcome but ‘does not change the overall financial position’.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who is part of a group of MPs campaigning for a better deal for rural communities and councils, praised the Communities Secretary Greg Clark’s decision to award an extra £3.14million to Northumberland County Council and sought assurances that elderly provision would be secure.
Northumberland will receive additional funding from central government of £2.01million in 2016/17 and £1.14million in 2017/18 compared with the provisional settlement.
In the Commons, Mrs Trevelyan said: “I welcome the additional funding that my right hon. Friend has announced to ease the pace of reductions during two the most difficult years, which in Northumberland seemed to be a really frightening challenge. Will he confirm that the revised settlement means that the position in Northumberland, which continues to have one of the highest populations of elderly people, will be secure?
Mr Clark replied: “The benefit for Northumberland is twofold. First, there is additional funding from the rural services delivery grant and the transitional grant that I mentioned, both of which are important and will be welcomed by people in Northumberland. Secondly, the review of the cost of delivering services in rural areas and the increased demands there is something for which my hon. Friend’s constituents and councillors called, so it is right that we should get on with that straightaway.”
After the debate, Mrs Trevelyan added: “This is a better transitional settlement than expected, and I pay tribute to the Secretary of State for listening, and to Northumberland County Council’s chief executive, Steve Mason, for helping me make the case for our county. I will continue to work with the council in the coming months to contribute to the review of fairer funding announced by the Secretary of State, which colleagues and I have been calling for in order to redress the imbalance in funding formulae on a needs basis.”
Leader of Northumberland County Council, Grant Davey, has welcomed the news and support from Mrs Trevelyan.
However, he said: “While this extra funding over the next two years is welcomed, unfortunately, it does not change the overall financial position of the council. This money is one-off funding and still means we have to cut £58million from our budget over the next four years; this is on top of the £148million we’ve had to cut since 2011.
“As required in the settlement from the Chancellor, it also means we will still need to raise council tax for local residents by 16 per cent over the next four years. This means the council will have to make some tough decisions and for residents, it means they will still have to pay more and receive less.
“In view of this, I am committed to working with all our MPs on ensuring a fair funding review.”