COMMENT: “We are calling on Government to give Derbyshire a fairer deal on funding”

Councillor Barry Lewis, Conservative leader of Derbyshire County Council
Councillor Barry Lewis, Conservative leader of Derbyshire County Council

Most people know that councils have far less money to spend than they used to – but did you know that Derbyshire is facing an additional problem?

Put simply we don’t get our fair share of funding when compared with other councils because of the way the Government calculates who gets what, writes Councillor Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council.

This impacts on all of us, affecting the amount of money we can spend on things like libraries, school improvement and services for people who are more vulnerable, including older people and people with disabilities.

Derbyshire is in the bottom ten worst-funded councils and ranks 140 out of 150 upper-tier English local authorities – including county councils, city councils and London boroughs – in terms of the money we have to spend per resident.

Islington Council has £952 to spend on every resident – in Derbyshire it is just £718. And if Derbyshire was funded at the same level as Kensington and Chelsea we’d be better off by £238 million.

That’s why we recently went to Westminster to enlist the help of Derbyshire MPs for our Fairer Funding campaign.

Your county council has already saved a huge amount - £257 million to be exact since 2010.

Under the old formula we still need to save another £63.2m – that’s more than a tenth of our remaining £519 million budget.

We have done our bit to lower the cost of public services – and we are still doing our bit. But we can only go so far. We are calling on the Government to do its bit by giving Derbyshire a fairer deal. All we are looking for is an even playing field with other areas across the country, at the heart of which should be an evidence-led approach on outcomes that are achieved.

We want the Government to recognise areas where Derbyshire is underfunded. For example, we can’t raise the same amount of money from council tax than areas in the south – why should we suffer because of that fact?

We also think other factors should be considered. For example, our elderly population is much higher than the rest of the country, as is the cost of gritting our roads during the winter.

Your county council will continue to do its best to provide the most efficient and effective public services possible, while trying to keep council tax increases as low as possible. As part of that we will continue to bang the drum in Westminster for a better funding deal for our county.