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Local Government Funding Allocation

Volume 645: debated on Monday 23 July 2018

11. What steps his Department is taking to ensure fairness in the allocation of funding to local government. (906583)

14. What steps his Department is taking to ensure fairness in the allocation of funding to local government. (906586)

We are undertaking a fair funding review of local authorities’ relative needs and resources to address concerns about the fairness of the current system, and I am pleased to say that we are making good progress in collaboration with the sector in order to introduce a simple, fair and transparent funding formula.

Councils across Derbyshire have suffered under the previous funding formula, and I welcome the consultation and the fact that Derbyshire is one of the business rate retention pilots. Does my hon. Friend agree that local councils could achieve a double whammy by encouraging local growth and creating more jobs, and also by raising their own funds through the increased business rates?

It is refreshing to hear my hon. Friend talk about growth in the context of local government funding. Economic growth is the only sustainable way to ensure the vibrancy of our local communities and to raise the vital money that we need to fund our services. I am delighted to tell him that the Government are committed to implementing further retention of business rates, so that his local authority, like all others, will have both an incentive and a reward when they drive growth in their local areas.

I am grateful to the Minister for those replies, but recent work by the County Councils Network has found that, despite additional funding provided to the last funding settlement at the beginning of the year, county areas including Suffolk will face £3.2 billion-worth of funding pressures by 2020. What can the Government do, in advance of the fair funding and comprehensive spending reviews, to ensure that councils are able to meet the essential needs of their residents?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s work on representing counties in this place, and I am delighted to have met him to discuss this topic on multiple occasions. I agree with him that county councils have done a tremendous job of maintaining services in this climate. I recognise the pressures that he identifies, and I can confirm to him that, in the short term, the Government will soon be publishing a technical consultation for local government finance in the upcoming settlement. As I said to the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable), we will be including a consultation on the issue of negative revenue support grant, and I can also confirm that there will be a new round of business rate retention pilots.

Since early 2015, the Government’s troubled families programme has contributed funding to help with early support and preventive support for priority families in Nottingham, which is vital given the high levels of deprivation and the pressures on children’s services in our society. By intervening early, family support workers have helped to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour, helped parents to get back into work and reduced the need for care proceedings. Will the Minister meet me and my hon. Friends the Members for Nottingham East (Mr Leslie) and for Nottingham North (Alex Norris) to discuss his plans to support councils working with families when the programme funding ends in 2020?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question, and I completely agree with her on the importance of this vital programme, especially with regard to prevention work. I am pleased to say that recent reports show that the incidence of children on the programme has declined by 13% as a result of intervention work by councils such as hers, and I would be delighted to meet them to learn what they are doing on the ground.

What assessment has the Minister made of the length of time it takes to reach a decision on business improvement district appeals, such as that of the Harborne BID in my constituency?

Like the hon. Lady, this Government believe that business improvement districts can be a fantastic asset for local businesses to ensure that their area remains a vibrant place to trade. She has strongly supported the application from her area, and I am pleased to tell her that a reply will be sent to her imminently after questions.