Budget: Council welcomes extra one-off funding but warns austerity is not over

Cornwall Council today welcomed the Chancellor’s budget announcements of additional one-off funding, but warned that austerity is not over.

Cornwall Council Leader Adam Paynter said the budget would provide some additional funding to Cornwall, but stressed that this was negligible compared to the savings the Council had been forced to deliver due to reductions in central government funding over the last decade.

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“Cornwall has some of highest levels of deprivation in the country. To say austerity is over is insulting to the people who live here and struggle day in and day out.

“The reality is Cornwall will be dealing with the consequences of central government funding cuts and austerity for years to come, and yesterday’s Budget won’t rectify that.

“In order to achieve this, we will need to fund vital services ourselves through council tax, business rates and charging for services, as well as finding new and efficient ways to do deliver those services differently.“With core central government funding slashed from £150m four years ago to £14m next year, Cornwall Council is planning for the need to be self-sufficient from April 2022.

“This is why we felt we needed to propose a 1.99% increase in council tax in our most recent budget proposal, with an additional 2% precept for adult social care services to fund increasing demand.”

“While we welcome any additional funding, the people of Cornwall are not going to have the wool pulled over the eyes – the reality is that local government is being forced to deliver more and more services funded by local residents.

"Cornwall is expected to see less than one per cent of £650 million announced for social care next year, and a similar share of £420 million to fix potholes."

Extra funding for schools, disabilities facilities and children’s social care are also expected to see small amounts of funding provided to Cornwall.

Councillor Paynter said he was pleased Cornwall will be one of the first to benefit from accelerated rollout of full fibre with £200 million allocated to pilot innovative approaches to deploying full fibre internet in rural locations, starting with primary schools, and with a voucher scheme for homes and businesses nearby.

“I’m also pleased to see that the budget recognises concerns we have been raising for many years about people seeking to reduce their tax liability by falsely declaring that the property is available for let. We welcome the government’s decision to consult on the criteria under which self-catering and holiday lets become chargeable to business rates rather than council tax,” he said.

The Council is undertaking further analysis of the impacts of the Budget.

Councillor Paynter also said that, despite the budget not signalling an end to austerity, he remains ambitious for Cornwall.

He said: “I would like to accelerate the dialogue with Government on further devolution to Cornwall as articulated in our New Frontiers document, ensuring that more services for our residents are directed by local decision making rather than decisions in Whitehall. As the only rural area to have negotiated a devolution deal, with the challenges that we face it is more important than ever that decisions that affect our residents are taken locally.”

The Council is undertaking further analysis of the impacts of the Budget.

Posted on 30 October 2018