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Council writes to Westminster calling for more financial support

Cornwall Council has written to the Government calling for more support from Westminster with Local Government finances ‘under strain like never before’.

The latest Council Performance Report, which focuses on quarter two of the financial year 2023/24, shows the authority’s projected overspend for the year has almost doubled from £7.9m to £14.9m.

Introducing the papers to the Cabinet meeting on 8 November, Cllr David Harris, deputy leader and portfolio holder for resources, said:  "Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 22 November, I’ve written in fairly blunt terms to the Government to express our concerns about the financial sustainability of local government and amplified the message from the Local Government Association to the Rt. Hon Jeremy Hunt MP.

"In their open letter, the LGA quite rightly points to local government being the fabric of our country, providing more than 800 services that positively impact the daily life of every person in every community.

"However, despite additional funding this year local government finances are under strain like never before.  If nothing changes councils are facing a funding gap of £4 billion over the next two years just to keep services at current levels."

He added: "We are in a lot better position than many Councils, we have strong reserves and an excellent finance team to keep eyes on this.

"However, we cannot go on like this, demand for those services that we have a statutory obligation to provide just continues to increase, just take the increase in demand in relation to Children.

"I know we are not alone, demand here is increasing throughout the country and central government must provide assistance here."

At the meeting, Cabinet also approved the outline business case for new sports and community facilities to be provided at Langarth Garden Village. The plans will see the land formerly earmarked for the Stadium for Cornwall allocated for the construction of a new Truro Community Sports Hub.

Located at the edge of the Park and Ride, the Hub will provide a permanent home for Truro City Football Club (TCFC), as well as facilities for use by residents of the Garden Village, Threemilestone Football Club and other sports clubs in Cornwall.

Also approved at the meeting were a new Supported and Specialist Housing Strategy, a further two week public consultation on the final wording of a review of the council's Homechoice system, and changes to the strategic approach to Cornwall's Local Plan.

Cabinet also discussed the Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Climate Adaptation Strategy, which sets out how the changing climate will be addressed in the South West, looking at how it may impact on future weather patterns aligned with rising sea levels.

The Cabinet unanimously endorsed the strategy, and a Cornwall-specific strategy will now be developed alongside it.

A final paper entitled ‘Celebrating Neurodiversity’ was also approved by the Cabinet. The paper explains that 'Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many ways; there is no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.'

It sets out how the council will support those with neurodiverse conditions to achieve their full potential through early support, and by building a greater understanding of such conditions within society.

Published, 09 November, 2023

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