Government hails £18milllion spending power boost for Northumberland

The Government has announced an £18million spending boost for Northumberland County Council, but this includes rising bills for ratepayers.

It is the county’s share of what has been described as the biggest increase in councils’ spending power for a decade.

It means local authorities in England will have access to a share of £49.2billion in 2020-21, an increase of £2.9billion or 4.4% in real terms. The funding for Northumberland represents a 6.4% increase on the current year.

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However, the £18million or 6.4% growth relate to the council’s core spending power, which is rising from £281million in 2019-20 to £299million. This is a measure of the resources available to local authorities for services, and includes revenue from council tax and business rates as well as grants from the Government.

The increases are based on the assumption that council tax will increase by 1.99% – the maximum allowed without holding a referendum, which was approved by Northumberland councillors last week.

The Government’s settlement also gives Northumberland County Council access to an extra £5.8million in social care grant, while the authority has also agreed an additional 2% rise in council tax ring-fenced for adult social care.

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This Government is committed to levelling up every part of the country, investing in every region and giving communities control over making the decisions which are right for them.

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“That’s why we’re confirming the biggest increase in councils’ spending power for a decade across England, while protecting residents from excessive rises in council tax.”

In terms of the settlement funding assessment, which consists of the local share of business rates and the revenue support grant from the Government, the figures show that Northumberland’s total has decreased very slightly – from £80.4million in 2019-20 to £79.4million for the forthcoming year.

The council expects to bring in £172million from council tax next year, up from £165million. The ring-fenced social-care element will increase from £12.6million to £16.5million.

The authority’s budget for 2020-21 does still include £10million of ‘efficiencies’, but Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate services, said that ‘overall, we’re spending £9million more on delivering council services this year’.