County council leader Steve Count joins 32 others in urging the Prime Minister for ‘fairer funding’ in shire counties
PUBLISHED: 17:09 20 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:09 20 August 2019
Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council Steve Count has written a letter urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to see through his promise to “level up” funding for the country’s “left behind” places.
Cllr Count is one of 32 leaders of England's largest councils - the majority that are Conservative - who has written an open letter to the Telegraph.
They fear that previous government pledges to provide "fairer funding" for rural and shire county councils were facing uncertainty.
It comes as new analysis revealed that shire county areas are missing out on £3.2bn of funding per year compared to other parts of England.
New analysis from the County Councils Network (CCN), whose councils represent 25 million people, are calling on the government to provide emergency funding for councils next year.
In the full letter sent to the Telegraph, senior councillors warn that "if the Prime Minister is to fulfil his pledge to level up opportunity in this country, then we must have a cast iron commitment to fair funding for our underfunded and overburdened councils".
In the letter, the 33 council leaders say "for decades our historic shire counties have been left behind our major cities and urban areas".
Following the announcement there would only be a one-year spending review, county leaders say they will accept a short delay to a new funding system being introduced.
This would be in return for a "cast-iron" commitment from the new government that it will conclude and implement the review - and provide an emergency injection of additional funding next year.
Unless the new government provides additional resources and a commitment to fairer funding, CCN warn that they will have to cut back on frontline care services, repairs to potholes, streetlights and youth and sure start centres.
They also say that they will have no choice but to continue raising council tax in years to come to make up the funding shortfall.
The letter concludes: "If the Prime Minister is to fulfil his pledge to level up opportunity in this country, then we must have a cast iron commitment to fair funding for our underfunded and overburdened councils.
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"Mr Johnson knows from his time as London Mayor how the capital benefitted from more generous funding; enabling him to invest its infrastructure and local services, while cutting council tax.
"It is time our shire counties were given the same opportunities."