20th March 2019

Council Leader welcomes budget boost for Somerset

Somerset County Council has welcomed yesterdays funding announcement which should mean an extra £1m for the County Council and £6.8m for Somerset as a whole. 

The Minister Housing Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, confirmed that Somerset is to be included in the latest phase of the Business Rate Retention pilot scheme.

The county and district councils bid together to be included in the scheme. It means that for one year they will be able to keep 75 per cent of the money raised through Business Rates, instead of the current 50 per cent.

Overall this should mean roughly £6.8m extra for Somerset – depending on the growth in business rates collected. Of this, an estimated £1m should be available to the County Council for use to support frontline services such as those for vulnerable adults and children. Around £2.4m should be available to district councils for their frontline services.

The remaining £3.4m is earmarked for investment in projects that support economic activity and growth in Somerset. These will be identified by the county and district councils working closely together with support from partners.

“This is good news not just for the County Council, but the county as a whole,” said Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of the Council.

“It is a great example of county and district councils working together and at a time of huge pressures on local government finance, all additional funding is warmly welcomed.

“This announcement, and the additional funding for highways and social care announced in the autumn, shows that our voice is being heard.

“Welcome though these additions are, we have to remember that they are ‘one-off’ allocations. This doesn’t solve the fundamental problem of inadequate funding for Local Government which means we are having to look at bridging a funding gap of around £28m over the next three years.

“That’s why it was also extremely pleasing to hear the Minister acknowledge the limitations of the current system for distributing money to local authorities – and commit to fixing them.

“He said the system needs to be sustainable and reflect the local circumstances. That is exactly what we have been calling for a number of years.”