Extra funding welcomed but lobbying to continue

Somerset County Council has cautiously welcomed extra Government funding announced this week.

An additional £150m has been made available to local authorities across the country and Somerset will get £2m, with £1.5m earmarked to ease pressures on Adult Social Care budgets and the rest in recognition of the extra costs facing rural councils.

This comes just two weeks after a letter from the Council’s Leader, David Fothergill – with the backing of all five Somerset MPs – to the Prime Minister highlighting the huge pressures on budgets and calling for fairer funding for the county.

Although welcomed, the Council is clear that this one-off money does not address fundamental underfunding from central government. Recent figures show that across all the shire counties, on average funding per resident is more than £700 per year. In Somerset it is £600.

Council Leader David Fothergill said: “Our budgets are under huge pressure so any additional funding is welcome, but this doesn’t tackle the underlying issue. Somerset’s residents are still getting short-changed and we will continue to lobby hard for fairer funding.”

A Government review of the way local authorities are funded is underway and a green paper setting out plans for the long-term funding of social care is due in the summer.

“These are important opportunities and we will work hard to make sure the Somerset voice is heard in Westminster,” said Cllr Fothergill.