The leader of the county council has expressed deep concerns over the impact of the Government’s funding settlement on rural authorities.
Since 2011, the Northumberland authority’s budget has been reduced by £148million. However, over the next four years, it has to find another £58million to cut, leaving it with just £10.3million of core funding from the Government by 2020.
There has been a change to how funding for local councils is calculated. The settlement has hit rural councils the hardest, with the Government expecting the authorities to raise more money locally through council tax and business rates.
County council leader Grant Davey criticised the Government’s claim that it is ‘only’ faced with a 2.5 per cent cut. He says this automatically assumes it will implement significant council tax increases and there will be many more homes and businesses in the area over the next few years.
He added: “This means that residents in Northumberland will be paying even more while receiving even less in services.
“Raising more money through increasing business rates might be good if you run a metropolitan council in the south of England, but here in a relatively remote and sparsely-populated county, it’s much harder for us to attract new businesses.”
Meanwhile, Anne-Marie Trevelyan – MP for the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency – has expressed her relief at additional funding over the next two years. However, although Coun Davey says it is welcome, it ‘does not change the overall financial position’.
Northumberland will receive additional funding from the Government of £2.01million in 2016/17 and £1.14million in 2017/18 compared with the provisional settlement.