In December, the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2019-20 was published. While perhaps not the most glamorous of documents, this important settlement confirms core spending power for councils is set to increase by over £1 billion to £46.4 billion in 2019-20; a cash-increase of 2.8 per cent and a real-terms increase in resources available to local authorities.
I have been working alongside other county MPs, as well as the leadership of West Sussex County Council, to ensure greater retention of business rates (rather than this local corporate tax going centrally to HM Treasury as it does now); a cause I have raised with the Secretary of State for Local Government and in the House of Commons.
Last month’s settlement confirmed our work had paid off, with West Sussex being included in the Government’s pilot programme of 75 per cent business rates retention in 2019-20.
The existing business rates retention scheme taking place around the country is already yielding strong results, with councils estimating that in 2018-19 they will keep around £2.4 billion in business rates growth.
An extra £650 million will also be provided next year for social care to assist councils in providing care for the most vulnerable.
This includes £240 million to support adult social care services to reduce pressures on the NHS, and £410 million for local authorities to support adults and children’s social care services and, where necessary, to relieve demand on the NHS.
A Government Green Paper (consultation) on social care is due to be published this year to support the system in the long-term. The upcoming NHS Long-Term Plan will also include the enhanced integration of health and social care as one of its key aims, to ensure that care does not suffer when patients are moved between systems.
Ahead of the publication of the funding settlement, the Chancellor announced £420 million has also been committed for highways authorities throughout England this winter to address seasonal repair pressures. This includes more than £6 million for West Sussex, with Crawley’s cyclists and motorists benefiting from repairs.
Henry Smith MP