Unfair Government Funding Leaves Lincolnshire Deprived
October 8th 2013There's a very important debate on local authority funding in Parliament on Thursday, 10th October. It's listed as backbench business, although I don't understand why an issue that affects so many people should not be considered front bench business. The debate comes right after another one on improving levels of adult literacy and numeracy, and in Lincolnshire these are very closely connected thanks to the county council's proposed cuts to library services. These £2 million cuts are a direct result of recent budget reductions from central government, which contributes a large proportion of local authority funding.
The Society of Local Council Clerks states: "The government's funding formula for local authorities means urban councils currently receive around 50% more money per person than rural councils." In 2012-13 LCC's formula grant from central government was £201.5m. If LCC had another £100 million or so it wouldn't be considering library closures, it would be opening new ones, as they have been in Birmingham.
The Rural Services Network has graphs, spreadsheets and information illustrating how rural counties fare relative to other local authorities. Scroll to the middle to find Lincolnshire's information. They give £18,461 as the average annual local earnings in Lincolnshire, versus an average of £21,560 for England as a whole, and £23, 560 for people living in urban areas.
There's more evidence of local deprivation in recent figures released about health outcomes in East Lindsey, and poverty plays a part in this. The detailed report makes grim reading.
Also, as a rural county it's hard to get around, even if you don't have to rely on the patchy and infrequent public transport. So there are lots of good reasons why Lincolnshire should have more than the average share of funding for public services, and for it to have less is indefensible.
You can email your MP via the Write To Them website. This is important not just for the future of the library service, but all other council services that are likely to come under threat if further cuts from central government go through in future.
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