County settlement figure announced

GOVERNMENT funding for Suffolk is to be increased by £10million this year with county coffers set to get £155million, it was announced today.

GOVERNMENT funding for Suffolk is to be increased by £10million this year with county coffers set to get £155million, it was announced today.

Suffolk County Council's Cabinet will meet on January 15 to consider the provisional settlement, a cash increase of 7.3 per cent compared with 2007/8, with a view to setting a budget and council tax levels.

The final settlement will be announced towards the end of January or early February 2008 once government has considered the responses to a consultation.

Jane Storey, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for resource management and transformation, said despite an apparent increase in funding, Suffolk has lost out on millions that will go to other authorities.

She said: "Once again council tax payers in Suffolk have lost out to a system that subsidises other parts of the country.

“Suffolk has had £14m (8.3pc) removed from its settlement in 2008/09 to pay for the minimum grant increases of other counties.

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“This is on top of £7.3m foregone in 2007/08.

“The current system for setting local government finances is still regarded as being unsustainable particularly with big movements of grant between authorities."

“While the finance settlement is more favourable to the council than was anticipated we still face tough choices.”

Government could still make changes to the final figure although past experience indicates only minor changes, if any, are made at this stage.

The county's budget and council tax level will be set at the meeting of the full council on February 21.

Suffolk County Council's Labour group said the settlement increase is far higher than other authorities in the country are set to receive and has challenged the administration to set about tackling issues facing the county.

Kevan Lim, Labour group deputy leader, said: “The Labour group recognises the many challenges facing Suffolk in recycling, in adult care and in a host of other areas like public transport.

“The government has given the county a multi-million pound windfall to begin to address these problems and the council should reflect on how best to use this opportunity.

“The Conservative administration should stop moaning about what is a very reasonable funding increase and make certain in their forthcoming budget that they restore the cuts to key services they have already made"

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