There is uncertainty ahead for North Devon Council’s finances despite the Government claiming it has ‘an extra’ £700,000 this year.

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby. Picture: Nikki PowellNorth Devon MP Selaine Saxby. Picture: Nikki Powell

Selaine Saxby MP has welcomed the 'funding boost' but the council says it is not a lump sum being presented.

The Government has increased its funding grant to the council by £48,000, taking it to £3.3million, while the New Home Bonus - for creating more housing - goes up by £391,151 this year, but as a one off payment.

The rest of the 'windfall' comes from the council's own ability to raise council tax, which for 2020-21 will be the maximum of £5 for a Band D property, or 2.73 per cent.

Jon Triggs, the council's head of resources, said the New Homes Bonus scheme was going to redesigned by the Government but at present they had been given no details.

A local government funding review for the country is scheduled for April this year, having previously been delayed.

Mr Triggs said while the council could balance the books this year, a budget gap of £1.781m was forecast for 2121-22 as a worst case scenario.

Council leader, Councillor David Worden said any increase in support from the government would be welcome as the council had lost around 40 per cent in core government funding in recent years.

But he said: "I am disappointed that not all of the increase in resources is ongoing funding and thus does not reflect the ongoing cost pressures that a rural local authority such as North Devon experience.

"Over half of the extra resources announced for 2020/21 is funding for one-year only in relation to New Homes Bonus and the majority of the remainder is delivered through an increase in raising council tax locally.

"This together with the announcement the Government's Fair Funding Review has been delayed until April 2021 places enormous uncertainty to all local councils about ongoing funding levels to deliver core services and I would like to see the Government provide more certainty on future funding as soon as possible."

Selaine Saxby MP had previously welcomed the Government's confirmation that North Devon will see its budget increased by 6.7 per cent this year.

She said: "Local authorities play a vital role in our communities, providing the crucial local services that people rely on every day.

"I am delighted the Conservative Government has confirmed North Devon will have additional 6.7 per cent funding this year, which will help our local leaders make positive change in the area."