The fight for fairer funding for Somerset has been stepped up as Somerset County Council calls for support for an online petition launched today.
The petition follows cross-party support for fairer funding for Somerset at a meeting of Full Council last month. During the meeting all Members supported a proposal to call on Government to reassess the “spending power” formula it uses to allocate funding to local authorities.
The petition can be found at www.somerset.gov.uk/fairerfunding and asks the Government to recognise the underfunding of rural councils like Somerset and review the way it allocates money to local authorities.
“I am delighted that all councillors have welcomed the need for fairer funding for Somerset,” said Cllr John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council.
“The most recent budget setting process has included some truly difficult decisions to reflect the continued reduction in funding from Government.
“In Somerset we are short-changed compared to other, more urban, authorities, despite the rising cost of providing services in a mostly rural county. As well as massive reduction in funding year-on-year, we have also been penalised by government for being a rural county in a process known as ‘damping’ where some of our allocation of funding has been used to help urban councils.
“Our residents, communities and businesses deserve access to the same services that are available in other areas of the country but Somerset taxpayer’s money is effectively being sent elsewhere”.
February’s Full Council meeting approved £16m worth of savings for 2015/16. This comes after a stark £20m drop in income from the Government for 2015/16 in the face of rising demand and significant pressure on Somerset’s key services.
Cllr Osman added: “Whatever your politics, if you care about the future funding for public services in Somerset, I urge you to sign this petition.”
The “spending power” measure used by Central Government is a calculation which factors in the Revenue Support Grant given to local councils, income generated through Business Rates and Council Tax, and the Council Tax Freeze Grant.