Analysis undertaken by the Local Government Association into the impact of the government’s proposed changes to local funding has shown that more cuts could be on the way for the Isle of Wight, but Bob Seely MP has pointed out some truths behind the claims brought to local attention by the Labour party.
It has been calculated that a change (in cash terms) of –£552,854 could be seen on the Island, meaning the Isle of Wight Council would have over half-a-million pounds less to play with. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Solent, Hampshire would see a budget bonus of £35,000,000 under the same changes.
Island Labour’s Chair, Julian Critchley, has said:
“This reflects the low priority the Tories give to the Isle of Wight. Despite all Bob Seely’s promises about his ‘Island Plan’, the government continues to cut funding for the island, even as it lavishes extra money on favoured authorities just over the water.
“The Island desperately needs more money. Our existing services are crumbling, with recent cuts to waste disposal, adult social care and mental health services. We can see the impact of the council’s cuts simply by walking down any of our high streets.
“The simple fact is that the government sees the Island as a ‘safe’ Tory seat. Its Tory MP and its Tory council can be relied upon not to make a fuss as the funding is cut again and again. If Islanders want to end this neglect, it’s vital they vote to remove the Tory council next year.
“We need a Labour council which will actually stand up and fight for this Island, instead of a Tory council which simply passes along the cuts from its masters in Westminster.”
In response, Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely has said:
“Since the Local Government Association published these figures, it has conceded that their analysis based on the Adult Social Care funding formula is just one aspect of future funding arrangement for councils, and that no overall conclusion can, or should, be drawn about the outcome of the Fair Funding Review for a local authority by looking at ASC alone. Following this clarification, the Secretary of State for Communities, Housing & Local Government, Robert Jenrick, has rightly referred to the stories coming out of this initial analysis as misleading.
“Consequently, the claims made by Island Labour are scaremongering in the extreme. Rather than seeking a headline based on some half-cut figures, I am working with the Isle of Wight Council to set out – to the Government – an evidence-based case for additional funding and seeking a more integrated approach for health and adult social care.
“However, we mustn’t forget that the last Labour Government took millions of pounds of funding away from local authorities such as the Isle of Wight to redistribute to metropolitan boroughs elsewhere – in a process known as “damping”. We are still living with the consequences of this funding baseline, and it is therefore even more important that we set out an evidence-based case for our funding needs. I am grateful to the continued input of our professional teams at both the council and the Isle of Wight NHS in supporting me in putting this case forward. This remains our top priority for the Island.”