Government budget funding to Northumberland County Council to remain static in 2021

Northumberland County Council HQNorthumberland County Council HQ
Northumberland County Council HQ
The Government’s contribution to Northumberland County Council’s budget will remain the same next year, halting – if nothing else – years of reductions.

The provisional figures, which are subject to consultation until January 16, show that the authority will receive a settlement of £79.4million in 2021-22, the same as the current year.

This total, which includes the revenue support grant, baseline funding and various tariffs and top-ups, has decreased from £104.5million in 2016-17 to £92.2million the following year, £85.3million in 2018-19, £80.4million in 2019-20 to the current level, with the main reduction coming in the revenue support grant.

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Nonetheless, the Government has promised that the overall deal will mean that core spending power for local authorities will increase by 4.5% in cash terms in 2021-22.

The national package includes a £1billion increase in social care funding, a further £1.55billion to help with the ongoing Covid response, £622m to continue the New Homes Bonus in 2021-22, an increase of £4million to a total of £85million for the Rural Services Delivery Grant, and a new, one-off £111-million Lower Tier Services Grant.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Tory MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, has welcomed the proposed financial settlement for Northumberland County Council, as well as the Government’s coronavirus funding.

The authority received just under £25million across four tranches in 2020, while the allocations for the £1.55billion in 2021-22 show £8.5million for Northumberland.

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“I am pleased the Government continues to recognise the frontline role our councils are playing in the battle against Covid-19 and in providing support to people and businesses,” Mrs Treveylan said.

“This extra funding is very welcome indeed. I am especially pleased that the Covid funding is not ring-fenced, allowing the council discretion to be able to support those most affected in our county.”

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service before Christmas after the broad outline of the settlement had been unveiled, Cllr Nick Oliver, the Conservative cabinet member for corporate services, said: “If it all comes through as we expect, then it’s a good settlement and better than we expected in our planning for the budget.

“That said, we are still keen to find efficiencies. We are not rowing back from the savings plans we had, but we won’t need to use reserves as planned.”

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And it is the cuts that are the focus of the Labour opposition at County Hall, with £8.3million-worth identified for next year – and even heftier cuts earmarked for the following two years, although these are not the subject of an ongoing consultation, which runs until Thursday, January 21.

Labour claims that the administration is trying to make residents ‘decide where the axe falls’ when the blame lies with the funding cuts made by Conservative-led governments since 2010.

They are urging people to respond to the consultation – available at – to tell the council that ‘all our services are extremely important and that more funding is needed not less’, while ignoring the questions ranking how important services are, so as to ‘not do their dirty work for them’.

Cllr Oliver previously said that the savings were based on a ‘proportionate approach’ and budgets in areas of pressure had actually been increased to ‘protect the most vulnerable’.

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Council leader Glen Sanderson added that the goal was not to ‘cut things for the sake of it’ and that listening to the public about what’s important to them is key to this process.

“Are the everyday services you get of the quality you want?” he said. “I would think most people would say that they are. I would love to have £20million more from the Government, but we know we have to be efficient.”

The budget and spending plans will be finalised before seeking approval from the full council at its meeting in February 2021.

As previously reported, the Government has confirmed that the referendum threshold for increases in council tax will remain at 2% next year, while authorities will also be able to charge an adult social care precept of up to 3%.

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Northumberland ratepayers face a 2% general rise (1.99%), but the care precept will be split over two years ‘to try to soften the impact’, so the overall bill is set to increase by 3.75% next year and 3.25% in 2022-23.

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