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Council challenges government to stay true to its ‘levelling up’ funding claim

Published Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Coventry is among a cross-party group of 30 of the lowest funded councils across the country that has joined forces to call for a £300 million temporary fix to ‘level up’ local government finance.

Leicestershire County Council is leading the campaign calling on the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC) to inject the extra money to support the very lowest funded authorities in the country.

Cllr Richard Brown, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources at Coventry City Council, said: “The government’s ‘Levelling Up’ department is more skewed than level when it comes to its funding of Coventry City Council.

“I’d like the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities department government to deliver ‘what it says on its tin’.

“We are towards the bottom of the pile when it comes to council funding and the government must recognise the needs of Coventry’s communities.

“That’s why we have given our backing to the letter sent to DLUHC Secretary of State, Michael Gove, setting out why the additional funding is needed.

“We are about to consult on our budgeting for 2022/23 and we are confident of balancing the budget without cuts to services, but I need to stress that this is only because of temporary financial plans that we may not be able to maintain in future years.

He added: “My colleagues and I are fed up with finding sticking plaster solutions to our longer- term financing. We need a better offer from the government.”

The letter, also sent to Minister for Levelling Up and Communities Kemi Badenoch, follows a meeting earlier this month of the leaders of this new cross-party grouping of the very lowest funded councils.

Known as the F20 councils, the councils have low levels of core spending power, compared to better funded councils.

The local government finance settlement is due before Christmas.

Cllr Brown added: “We are calling for a fairer formula to help sustain crucial front-line services – those our residents depend on. 

“We have outlined in our budget proposals the increasing demands for adult social care, children’s services and the added financial pressures from COVID.

“We are taking a cautious approach because the financial landscape is so unpredictable, and we will be looking out for the warning signs.

“This is a budget that is aiming to future proof our financial planning as far as we possibly can. This is particularly challenging for us as Coventry’s core funding per head from government remains in the lowest 30 of all local authorities in England.

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