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A message from Adam Paynter Lib Dem Leader of Cornwall Council

March 14, 2018 2:37 PM

Adam PaynterAs you will probably be aware, the Government in recent years has steadily been cutting the amount of grant that it gives local authorities to provide services. Since 2010 Cornwall Council has had to deliver over £300m in savings and we are having to make more in the years to come. However the way the money from government has been shared out between councils is not fair. Cornwall receives on average £264 per head (25%) less than those in inner London.

Cornwall Council has been leading a "Fair Funding for Cornwall" campaign, calling for fair treatment and a change in the funding formula so that it takes into account many of the problems of large rural areas and small scattered communities such as those in Cornwall. I am pleased to say that this has received widespread support from other parties, and indeed other local authorities such as Devon and Somerset have joined our call for Government to give a fair deal to Cornwall.

Very soon the Cornwall Council Tax bill will be arriving on your doorstep and it will see an increase of just under 5%. An increase of this size is not welcome but it is largely out of our hands. It includes a 2% element that will be spent on adult social care, but this increase is as a direct result of the cut of more than £70m in the grant that Cornwall will receive this year, cuts that have left a £30m hole in the Council's Budget.

In spite of the financial pressures, we have set a balanced budget that fulfils the promises we made to the electorate in May last year.

The budget has been a challenge but I do believe it is the best that we can do for Cornwall. Overall our situation in Cornwall is far better than several other Conservative run councils up and down the country such as Northamptonshire and Shropshire, which are virtually bankrupt with unbalanced 4 year budgets.

We committed to protecting the most vulnerable, building homes, and increasing wages, this budget delivers on all these.

We will:

  • Protect vulnerable children, adults and families with a 10% (£14m) increase in funding for Adult Social Services and a 5% (£4m) increase to children and family services
  • Provide capital investment to build 1,000 homes, and help grow the economy, jobs and choice for local people
  • Provide the Foundation Living Wage for Council staff and all Council contracts which will help support the local economy by boosting local wages by £10m each year.

In addition it will:

  • Reduce fuel poverty, helping over 1,100 homes to stay warmer for less
  • Provide extra provision for care leavers who will now receive additional support with their council tax
  • Provide £1.2m to Citizens Advice Cornwall over four years so the service can provide continued support and advice to residents
  • Bring long term empty properties into use by charging a 100% council tax premium from April 2019
  • Invest over £800m through the capital programme in new and improved housing, major highways and transportation links and projects supporting economic growth
  • Give residents more influence in local decision making by providing community network panels an allocation of £1m per year to determine local Highway capital works
  • Ensure continued support for those in need with paying their Council tax bills.

We have an ageing population growing at a rapid pace that will put more and more demand on services. Where's the money to support these future needs? That's why we are campaigning for a fairer funding deal for Cornwall that is based on need instead of an outdated funding model that doesn't take in to account need or the added cost of delivering services in rural areas.

A fairer funding model could deliver an extra £39million for Cornwall every year - that's an extra £71 for every resident. It would mean rather than having to make decisions to reduce services, we could look at opportunities to boost road maintenance, support for children and families and create more jobs - the things residents tell us are most important to them.

In addition to those things I have already mentioned, we have reduced the number of rough sleepers, we are cracking down on empty properties by doubling the amount of Council Tax payable on them, and we are supporting local jobs, particularly in the digital and leisure industries. We have increased wages for those working in social care and have abolished 15 minute visits to the most vulnerable.

A year on from the elections, I hope you will agree that we can be proud of what the Lib Dem led administration has achieved so far.