Local councils are set to receive more central government support to help ease the effects of funding cuts between now and 2020.
North Devon and Torridge district councils will be given nearly £900,000 of extra central government cash to prop up services during the next two years.
The additional financial support has been pledged to rural councils to help buffer local government settlement funding cuts of 6.7 per cent between 2016 and 2020.
It means that instead of £77,000 identified in the draft settlement in December, North Devon Council’s Rural Services Delivery Grant is now likely to be £308,000 in 2016/17.
The council will receive £249,000 in 2017/18, instead of the previously predicted £134,000.
Torridge District Council will receive £470,933 in 2016/17, instead of £117,012. The council will receive £380,288 in 2017/18, rather than £204,770.
Devon County Council is set to receive an additional £8.4million.
The announcement of £300m for local councils over the next two years was made by Local Government Secretary Greg Clark, following lobbying by West Country MPs, including North Devon’s Peter Heaton-Jones.
Mr Heaton-Jones told the Gazette that he would be supporting the final settlement in the House of Commons today (Wednesday).
“I am glad that after much lobbying from myself and fellow MPs in rural areas, the Government has significantly improved our local government settlement.
“Importantly, the Government has closed the gap between urban and rural areas and removed the unfairness that existed in the draft figures.
“This shows what can be achieved by persistent lobbying, and proves the government is listening.”
North Devon Council said it would look to place the additional amount into a government funding reserve, to ‘smooth’ any further funding changes in future years.
Executive Member for resources, Councillor Mike Harrison, said: “This is really good news for North Devon and other rural districts.
“With the support of our MP, we have been lobbying hard to make our views known on the issue of low funding for rural authorities, compared to our urban neighbours.
“Therefore, I am glad the government has heard our voices and has taken action to try to rebalance the funding situation.”
But the council’s opposition leader, Brian Greenslade said North Devon was still losing out to urban areas such as Plymouth and urged Mr Heaton-Jones to vote against the local government settlement.
He said: “All will see improved rural funding in 2016/17 but this will not be added to base funding.
“As far as the finance people at these bodies can see, this is merely bringing forward funding that would, at provisional settlement, be coming through during this Comprehensive Spending Review period anyway.
“So in reality it appears that Government has not taken further action to rebalance funding between urban and rural authorities.
“This is disappointing and North Devon tax payers will still be paying more for their services than tax payers in urban Plymouth for example.”