Nick Harvey laments council’s ‘impossible situation’
14:15 13 February 2014
North devon MP slams Government’s lack of fair funding action in speech to Parliament
NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey has slammed the Government’s lack of action on introducing fairer funding for rural communities.
In a passionate speech to the Commons on Wednesday night, Mr Harvey highlighted the current rural funding ‘penalty’, which sees rural areas receive up to 50 per cent less in funding per head than urban areas.
Last November, Mr Harvey presented a petition to the Government with 1,700 signatures from North Devon residents calling for fairer funding.
He also voted against the Local Government Finance Settlement 2014/15 on Wednesday, which sets out Government grant allocations for councils across England.
“As I put it to Ministers, why should some of the poorest people in the country, on the lowest wages, pay on average £86 higher in council tax than urban-dwellers, yet receive far less Government funding and watch local services erode around them?” said Mr Harvey.
“North Devon Council’s Government grant has been halved since 2010 and their total budget cut by a third. Devon County Council is having to embark on a huge programme of cuts to day centres and care homes, and people are of course up in arms about it.
“But this is an impossible situation for councils, who on average receive £145 less than their urban counterparts - a funding gap as wide as 50%.
“The Government have acknowledged there is a problem, and have found £11.5m to redress it, which equates to just over a pound per head. This simply isn’t enough. At this rate it will take us 145 years to right the gap in terms of the Government grant.”