Following pressure from MPs, the Government’s announcement this week that it was to award ‘transitional funding’ to county councils at last provided some acknowledgement about the dire financial position facing the authority after many years of catastrophic cuts.
Whilst all councils have suffered huge cuts in funding from the Government, county councils have been disproportionately affected.
This is because no allowance has been made for the increasing demand for the social care services we provide to the most vulnerable, which is accounting for more and more of what remains of our budgets,
Whilst any support is welcome, the £2 million in transitional funding that Nottinghamshire will receive comes too little, too late for many people, whose services have been cut or jobs lost.
Even with this new funding, Nottinghamshire is still £7 million short of the ‘worst case scenario’ financial position we envisaged when drawing up our budget for next year.
And there appears to be no end to the funding crisis the authority faces.
That’s despite the council already consulting on a range of proposals for 2016-17 to save more than £20 million, in addition to the £212 million in savings we have already made since 2010.
A lot of questions still remain unanswered about how the council is going to have the funds it needs, just to deliver its basic statutory functions in the years to come.
It’s all the more disheartening when you see how this new transitional funding has been divided up.
A much greater share is going to affluent areas in the south than is being allocated to counties in the midlands and north.
In addition to Nottinghamshire’s £2 million allocation, county councils in Derbyshire and Lancashire will only receive a further £1.1 million each.
Compare that to the £4.5 million per year for Oxfordshire, £7.8 million for Hertfordshire, £7 million per year for Essex and £11.9 million for Surrey.
At a time when we are in advanced discussions on devolution, which aims to re-balance the country’s economy and spread prosperity beyond the south-east, it’s depressing to see that funding allocated to affluent counties far outstrips that given to areas of greatest need.
For now, it seems, the Government is determined to preserve the north-south divide.
Keep up to date with the county council at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk