Cornwall Council’s deputy leader, David Harris, has sent an open letter to the secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, Michael Gove, calling on the government to urgently provide more support for local authorities.
The letter was written in response to the provisional Local Government Settlement, which outlines the way central government will allocate funding for all local authorities.
In his letter, Cllr Harris issues a stark warning that the sector faces a ‘financial abyss’. Without additional funding, even well-run councils risk ‘going to the wall’.
“I have been portfolio holder for resources since the Conservative group became the majority party in Cornwall Council in 2021 and I have seen how tightly our finances are run,” he writes. “But I have now almost reached the stage of throwing my hands in the air in despair. Whichever way we turn, we see financial issues that are outside of our control.”
Cllr Harris calls on the government to intervene in key areas such as children’s services to address ‘systemic challenges in the “broken” provider market’ that are resulting in huge increase in the cost of placing children requiring care in the appropriate accommodation. “To be clear, we need both the immediate financial remedy and longer-term cure” he adds.
Other pressing issues identified by Cllr Harris include the delay in external audits of council finances and “years of chronic underfunding attributable to an archaic funding formula”.