21 December 2007

This follows on from this post of 7 December 2007 on next year’s formula grant for local government.

An official council paper presented recently to the county executive says candidly that the increase from central government in the formula grant over 2007-08 is “much higher than expected and sees Cornwall close to the higher end of shire county increases.” The paper goes on to point out that this means about £6.2 million more than county council budget planners predicted Cornwall would receive. The paper adds that the following two financial years to 2010-11 exceed, to a lesser degree, the county council’s predictions of funding.

This is a welcome frankness about how well Cornwall with a 8.5 percent increase has done out of the settlement and puts the earlier political wailing in context. The average increase for the shire counties is around 5.7 percent.

The paper goes on to point out that the Cornwall largess still leaves the county council with a deficit of nearly £5 million on current spending plans.This is a serious problem.

The Liberal Democrat council has made some curious spending choices in the near past and has at times appeared incoherent about its route. Can it improve? Not enough, I think, and that’s a pity because, Labour being out of the possibility of power in Cornwall at present, the alternative is the godforbid Conservatives.

I shall look at the effect of the damping mechanism on Cornwall’s funding later.