Anger as council funding is cut back in government settlement

Pathfinder House in Huntingdon

Pathfinder House in Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

‘Disappointing’ – that was the word used to describe the news that Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) will see a £600,000 drop in its spending power under proposals put forward by the Government.

The funding settlement calculated for every district council across England was announced this week and, of the 391 local authorities in the country, only three other councils have seen a greater reduction in funding – Ashfield, Gloucester and Mansfield.

The news comes despite the Government increasing local government spending power across the country.

Councillor Jonathan Gray, executive councillor for resources at HDC, said: “Huntingdonshire District Council continues to be a growth council, supporting the ongoing development of new housing and employment opportunities, as well as helping existing businesses to develop.

“The provisional settlement is disappointing but the council will continue to provide good, value for money services to its residents.”

A council’s spending power is made up of the revenue support grant, business rates, new homes bonus, and Council Tax. In 2018, the council was awarded £16.3million by the Government, in 2019, that figure will drop to £15.6million.

The fall is due to a cut to the council’s new homes bonus of £600,000. The council says this is primarily because of four-year legacy payments, which started in 2015/16, coming to an end.

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Jonathan Djanogly, the MP for Huntingdon, said he was “disappointed” with the news and had written to James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Homes, Communities, and Local Government, to call for an “urgent explanation”.

Mr Djanogly said HDC was a “pro-growth” council that had protected front-line services while making efficiencies to reduce its spending and, therefore, the reduction in spending had provoked a strong reaction among senior local councillors.

The MP said the council had “actively embraced” the Government’s call to deliver new homes and said he had heard the phrase ‘punishing success and rewarding failure’ used in response to the news.

The district council has a window of opportunity to submit a response to the provisional settlement to the Government, in an attempt to change its mind.