Minister asked for fairer funding from government to help prevent cuts to council services
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has heard first-hand about the financial challenges facing Shropshire Council – and was asked for fairer distribution of government funding to help meet these challenges and help avoid cuts to council services.
Greg Clark MP visited Shropshire yesterday (12 May) at the request of Shropshire Council Leader Malcolm Pate. He heard presentations from councillors, council officers and University Centre Shrewsbury representatives, and visited Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
Faced with above average growth in adult social care demand and cost, the high cost of delivering services in a rural county, and a number of economic barriers to raising the council’s income, Shropshire Council is faced with having to make a number of difficult and unpopular cuts to services to achieve a balanced budget.
To help avoid these cuts, the council is asking the government for the following help:
- National redistribution of Improved Better Care Funding and business rates to factor in needs, particularly for Adult Social Care.
- Locally determined multipliers for business rates, and to be able to charge a wider range of businesses.
- Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funding to support the council’s investment in University Centre Shropshire.
- Freedom to raise Council Tax by more than 1.99% without the need for a referendum.
Malcolm Pate, Leader of Shropshire Council, said:
“It’s very significant that Greg Clark has come to Shropshire as it’s really important that the government hears our views. Our MPs have done a great job working together to make sure that government is listening to us at the highest level, and will continue to do so.
“Today’s visit was very constructive and very positive and Greg Clark understood and accepted our arguments. It was a full and frank discussion and the minister can be in no doubt about the challenges we face.
“What he has said gives us hope for the long term, but the next two years remain uncertain. With the help and support of our MPs we’ll continue to make the case for why we need more funding in the next two years.”
Clive Wright, Chief Executive of Shropshire Council, said:
“We made our point very clearly that we are not asking for more funding for local government in England overall, but on adult social care and public health alone Shropshire is £12.6m short of our fair share of funding. This unfairness is causing us to cut a wide range of well-managed, very efficient services. The costs of adult social care are greater in Shropshire as we have more older people in our population and our residents live longer compared to the national average.
“We shouldn’t underplay the significance of getting an important minister to visit Shropshire, and we’re happy that Greg Clark has listened and recognised the challenges that Shropshire Council is facing.”
Pictured are (l-r): Malcolm Pate, Leader of Shropshire Council; Greg Clark MP; Clive Wright, Chief Executive of Shropshire Council.