West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, has vowed to intensify the campaign for fair funding to Cornwall and other local authorities. Mr George is one of a number of MPs – across all Parties – who have called upon the Prime Minister and the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, to put right decades of unfairness in the Local Government Finance Settlement.
Under the Government’s Funding Formula, rural local authorities are ‘penalised’ in contrast to their urban counterparts. Urban and metropolitan authorities receive 50% more Government money per head than rural councils.
Mr George said: “This unfairness has a very direct impact on the ability of Cornwall Council to provide basic services. The refusal of Government to put right decades of unfair funding has been brought into sharp relief at a time when Cornwall Council is being forced to make savings of £millions from its budget due to the Government’s unfair treatment of rural authorities.
“If funding were distributed to local authorities on the basis of need and social deprivation then places like Cornwall would be receiving above rather than below the national average. This underfunding has a direct impact on the ability of Cornwall Council to maintain library opening hours, maintain the rural bus network, meet the care needs of elderly and disabled people and fully support school pupils in a way which urban parts of the country simply take for granted.
“Just because the Prime Minister and Communities Secretary rejected the cross party petition for fair funding to rural areas, this does not mean to say that we are going to give up.”
Mr George also criticised a local Conservative Party campaign which claims to support a ‘freeze’ on council tax. Mr George described the campaign as ‘dishonest and misleading’.
Mr George said: “It’s remarkable that the local Conservative Party are calling for a council tax freeze when Conservative members backed the budget which produced a small increase, in spite of the efficiencies which the Council is seeking to make. The last Tory administration proposed a 1.97% council tax rise but the Independent and Liberal Democrat Council achieved a freeze. The last Tory led Council proposed an indicative 5% rise this year so for the Conservatives to claim that they want to ‘freeze’ the council tax and to even set up a petition to campaign for it merely demonstrates how desperately dishonest they’ve become.
“If the Tories wanted a freeze in the council tax then they should have proposed an alternative budget. But most of the local Tories backed the Independent and Liberal Democrat budget. They say they want the Council ‘to work harder to find efficiencies, economies and new funding methods’ but they made no attempt to indicate how these efficiencies could be achieved and made no proposition whatsoever when the opportunity arose!
“Rather than engaging in a dishonest and misleading campaign they should join cross party MPs who are urging the Prime Minister and the Communities Secretary to give Cornwall the fair funding we deserve.”