North Devon ‘at breaking point’ warns MP

North Devon MP Nick Harvey.

North Devon MP Nick Harvey. - Credit: Archant

Nick Harvey fears public services will be stretched too thin after latest round of Government cuts is announced.

FUNDING cuts are stretching North Devon to the breaking point, local MP Nick Harvey has warned.

Mr Harvey said he was disappointment at the latest Local Government Financial Settlement unveiled by the Government today (Wednesday), with North Devon set to see its funding slashed by 5.9 per cent for the next financial year.

The level of funding councils will receive in 2014-15 was revealed today by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Mr Harvey said but each household in North Devon will lose almost £18 in spending power, coming on top of year-on-year reductions since 2010 which have halved North Devon Council’s government grant.

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Devon as a whole receives a 1.5 per cent cut. Last year an £8.5million efficiency grant was given to historically underfunded rural authorities to mitigate funding inequalities compared to urban areas. It has today been increased to £9.5million.

“Today’s settlement leaves North Devon in an increasingly perilous situation of trying to safeguard frontline services with decreasing support from Whitehall,” said Mr Harvey.

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“Public services are getting thinner and thinner on the ground. Even though North Devon pulls some of its funding from Devon County Council, we are still in a situation where the District Council is stretched to breaking point. It’s becoming inevitable that we will end up with fewer social workers or local bus services.

“Our relative position has been worsened over the years by the historic funding bias towards urban areas of up to 50 per cent more per head.

“The Government has previously indicated it wanted to improve the relative position of rural councils. The chancellor went so far as to admit the formula needs improvement last week during a Parliamentary committee. Increasing the rural efficiency grant by £1m is a token move that won’t help anybody – it would need to be 10 times bigger to have any impact.

“This is therefore an incredibly bitter pill to swallow, particularly after the rural funding lobby have been shouting so loudly on this front. The situation is unacceptable.”

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