Peter Aldous, who is Chair of the All-Party Group on Counties, asks the Government to provide more support to County Councils ahead of the fair funding reviews to tackle the £3.2 billion of extra funding needed by 2020 as highlighted by the County Councils Network.
We are undertaking a fair funding review of local authorities’ relative needs and resources to address concerns about the fairness of the current system, and I am pleased to say that we are making good progress in collaboration with the sector in order to introduce a simple, fair and transparent funding formula.
I am grateful to the Minister for those replies, but recent work by the County Councils Network has found that, despite additional funding provided to the last funding settlement at the beginning of the year, county areas including Suffolk will face £3.2 billion-worth of funding pressures by 2020. What can the Government do, in advance of the fair funding and comprehensive spending reviews, to ensure that councils are able to meet the essential needs of their residents?
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s work on representing counties in this place, and I am delighted to have met him to discuss this topic on multiple occasions. I agree with him that county councils have done a tremendous job of maintaining services in this climate. I recognise the pressures that he identifies, and I can confirm to him that, in the short term, the Government will soon be publishing a technical consultation for local government finance in the upcoming settlement. As I said to the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable), we will be including a consultation on the issue of negative revenue support grant, and I can also confirm that there will be a new round of business rate retention pilots.
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