Council leader calls for Government to address funding gap

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The leader of North Devon Council is calling on the Government to address a shortfall in funding to local authorities for the new financial year.

The council has formally responded to the Provisional Local Government Financial Settlement for 2024/25 with a warning that the proposed funding does not take into account an increased demand on statutory services or the extra costs associated with delivering services in a largely rural area.

North Devon Council stands to receive an increase of 4.7% in Core Spending Power if it increases council tax by the maximum amount permitted, compared to an average of 4.9% for district councils generally and 6.5% for the whole local government sector.

The funding announced only goes partly towards covering the increased costs of delivering services, and after taking into account the high rate of inflation over the last two years, is effectively a funding reduction in real terms.

Services such as housing have seen a substantial increase in demand, with the council's spend on temporary accommodation and homelessness prevention doubling in value since 2020, and high numbers presenting themselves for support.

Rural councils continue to be disadvantaged by the funding proposals, with services costing more to deliver in comparison to urban areas. Furthermore, the council has highlighted analysis from the Rural Services Network which finds councils in rural areas will receive approximately £142 less funding per head compared to those in urban areas.

The leader of the council has written to North Devon MP Selaine Saxby, urging her to make representations to the Government and not vote for the provisional settlement in its current form.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor Ian Roome, says: "I am dismayed that the Provisional Local Government Financial Settlement for 2024/25 has once again failed to address the added pressures facing rural councils delivering services at a time when both costs and demand are increasing.

"The harsh reality is that without sufficient Government funding it is residents and communities who pay the price through increased council tax bills and cuts to services.

"We are conscious of the strain the cost of living crisis is having on our residents and are committed to helping our communities every day with a wide range of services. That is why we are calling on the Government to take steps to ensure North Devon and other councils in our position are given fairer funding."

The Final Local Government Finance Settlement is set to be announced in February 2024.