Government financial settlement a ‘sticking plaster’ says senior county councillor

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A new financial settlement between government and local councils is a “sticking plaster”, according to a senior county councillor.

The announcement made by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government sets out funding for local authorities for the next year.

It includes measures on grants for adult social care, business rates and council tax.

But, Lincolnshire county councillor, Colin Davie, executive member for economy, said the settlement does not go far enough.

Secretary of State, James Brokenshire MP, made the announcement which includes a 75% business rates retention pilot and £1.3 billion real term increase in core funding.

£650 million has also been allocated for adult social care, of which £240 million will go towards easing winter pressures for local authorities.

Ministers have also frozen the council tax threshold, meaning no increase can be made above 3% without a local referendum.

But, the settlement only accounts for local authority budgets for the next 12 months.

Council leaders have previously warned they may only be able to provide the “bare minimum” in services after 2020 without guaranteed funding.

Councillor Davie said new money was “welcome” but added that Lincolnshire can no longer “take the crumbs off the table”.

“I would say it’s more of a sticking plaster,” he said.

“In the long term, we cannot go on without a full redressing of our financial situation.

“Government accepts that we are not properly funded, we are unfairly funded.

“My message to government is that next year, we need a full financial settlement of our grievances in relation to funding.”

But, Mr Brokenshire said the new settlement will make local government more “self-sufficient” and “resilient”.

“I’m delivering a settlement which paves the way for a fairer, more self-sufficient and resilient future for local government and a brighter future for the people and places they serve,” he said.

“This settlement delivers a real-terms increase in spending for local authorities in 2019 to 2020 and gives them more control over the money they raise too, while protecting residents against excessive council tax rises.”

Meanwhile, the county council has proposed an increase in council tax of 4.95% for 2019/20.

The authority is also expected to use £23 million from its reserves to cover cuts to funding.