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Councils band together to call for extra funding

A cross-party group of the lowest funded councils across the country is joining forces to call for a £300 million temporary fix to level up local government finance.

Warrington has joined the campaign – led by Leicestershire County Council - calling on the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC) to inject the extra money to support the very lowest funded authorities in the country.

Deputy Leader of Warrington Borough Council and Cabinet Member for finance, Cllr Cathy Mitchell, has joined the leaders of the lowest funded councils – known as F20 – in writing to DLUHC Secretary of State, Michael Gove, setting out why the additional funding is needed.

The letter, also sent to Minister for Levelling Up and Communities Kemi Badenoch, follows a meeting earlier this month of the leaders of this new cross-party grouping of the very lowest funded councils. The group, which, alongside Warrington, includes Leicestershire, York, Bath and NE Somerset, Luton and Hampshire, all agreed to put their weight behind the campaign.

Cllr Cathy Mitchell, said: “For too long, councils have been expected to do more, with less – with the lowest-funded councils feeling this pressure most acutely.

“Without further financial support, councils with the lowest spending power will find it even more challenging to continue providing the services that our residents depend on - and we call on the Secretary of State to provide us with the additional support we so desperately need.”

Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “We’ve teamed up with councils from across the country – and momentum is building.

“Our short-term solution – recently published by think-thank UK Onward – would see an extra £300 million injected into the system. This would benefit the F20 councils which have low levels of core spending power, compared to better funded councils.

“Without additional financial support, those authorities with low core spending power increasingly will struggle to provide essential and valued services to their local communities. A temporary solution isn’t ideal but it offers to achieve a quick and relatively cheap solution to put our low funded councils on a more sustainable footing.

“And with the local government finance settlement on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to talk about what’s required to level up local government funding.”

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Keith Mans, added: “We believe a more equitable funding formula is needed to remain financially sustainable in future – particularly in the face of ever growing demands for social care and the added financial pressures from COVID. We accept that major funding reform at the current time is difficult, but some sort of change is needed in the short term otherwise we will continue to be hit the hardest as we all try to recover from the pandemic.”

Read the UK Onward report here