Extra money for Harborough district is welcomed

Council tax bill
Council tax bill

Both Harborough District and Leicestershire County Councils have welcomed last-minute ‘extra funding’ from the Government this week - while still saying “finances are challenging”.

Harborough District Council has got almost £165,000 of additional funding from the central government for the next financial year - 2016/17.

The larger Leicestershire County Council, meanwhile. got an extra £3.3 million.

Both councils said savings would still have to be made. The money softens the blow of falling Government grants for all councils.

The Government is looking to phase out these grants altogether by 2020, making local government completely self-financing, with its income from local residents and through local business rates.

In Harborough, deputy council leader Cllr Phil King said: “The additional funds for Harborough District Council and Leicestershire County Council is welcome news. Harborough has traditionally had the lowest settlement funding from Government in Leicestershire. The recognition that services cost more to deliver in rural areas follows many years of lobbying .”

But even with the additional money, the relevant district council grant is £400,000 down on last year. It is still looking for £710,000 of savings in 2016/17.

In Leicestershire, the Government grant has fallen from £82 million in the current financial year, to £59.3 million, even with the extra cash.

A county council spokesman said: “Council rates will go up, because the demand for council services is going up.”

The county council estimates it will need an extra £41 million for care services alone over the next four years.

The last-minute concessions come from a new £300 million Government “relief fund”, following lobbying from councils and Conservative MPs, including Harborough’s Sir Edward Garnier.

Labour claimed that 83 per cent of the two-year “relief fund” is going to Tory-run councils.