Local Government Finance - My Response
All MPs fight hard to get the best deal for their constituents and local area.
This week, I was lobbying Government on the funding for the future of our hospitals, and improved rail links to Birmingham.
Also, this week, I pointed our local authority, Telford and Wrekin Council, towards a £5 billion Government Housing Infrastructure Fund which can be used to unblock housing development and get community-focused infrastructure projects off the ground – a source I hope they will consider.
I recognise that councils across the UK are having to work incredibly hard to maximise value and find new funding sources, and it is important to support them.
There are, and will be, challenges to delivery and we will need to keep pushing for solutions.
However, we are on a solid footing, and there is some good news in this week's funding announcement:
- In addition to the Government’s £2 billion commitment to adult social care, a further £150 million has been made accessible for 2018-19, by way of the Adult Social Care Support Grant. This is additional funding.
- The business rates retention scheme will be maintained into 2018-19 and 2019-20 and the Government will open a further bidding round of pilots in 2019-20 to support the objective for local authorities to retain 100% of business rates.
- £16 million will be made available to councils providing services in rural areas, taking the total Rural Services Grant to £81 million - the highest it has ever been and a recognition of the cost of providing local services in sparsely populated areas. For Telford and the Wrekin, this additional funding amounts to £0.5 million.
- The Government have agreed to maintain the New Homes Bonus baseline at 0.4% and £947.5 million in New Homes Bonus payments will be paid in 2018-19. This will ensure that we are able to build the homes we need in Telford.
- The Government has also published a formal consultation to look at fairer funding. We need an updated and fairer distribution methodology that gives councils the confidence to face the challenges and opportunities of the future.
Telford has also benefited from the Government’s Midlands Engine strategy which so far has included:
- £22 million of funding to boost skills, connectivity and growth within our Local Enterprise area.
- The Telford Land Deal, releasing land for new industrial areas and housing, with £44m from the proceeds to be invested in Telford.
- The Telford Growth Package brought £14m of funding for a whole series of road improvements across the borough.
- Telford Eastern Gateway Project added £3.6m of funding targeted at the T54 employment site delivering serviced employment land.
- The brand new Telford Bus Station project brings another £1.3 million of Government funding.
- £2 million of Government funding for better broadband.
- £7 million Government funding for a new foot bridge at Telford Train Station.
We have a strong and thriving economy in Telford, with a growing population and a business-friendly environment which we have built over the past few years.
By getting Telford better connected and improving our infrastructure we attract new business and boost jobs and incomes.
Our fundamentals are good, and I hope I can build on this with my New Town colleagues, and the Government, and secure support for our enterprise, skills, connectivity, and infrastructure needs.
My constituents can rest assured that I am fighting their corner and looking to improve our community and services at every opportunity.