THE MP for North Cornwall has hailed the government’s latest funding announcement, with an additional £600-million set to be provided for local authorities in order to help alleviate funding pressures.

However, the announcement was been criticised by the leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Cornwall Council, with the council reported to be needing an additional £57-million due to an increase in demand for services and inflationary pressures.

The announced funding from the government includes £500-million of new funding for councils with responsibility for adults and children’s social care, distributed through the Social Care Grant.

Approximately £6-million of this latest funding is set to be received by Cornwall Council, which had previously warned that it might be in peril within two years if further funding was not allocated to local authorities as a matter of urgency.

Councillor Colin Martin said the government was ‘giving with one hand and taking with another’, adding that in his view the funding is far from sufficient to reverse the impact of cuts over recent years.

Cllr Martin shared details of information given to councillors, which report that a ‘services grant’ provided by the government to local authorities was set to be cut by 84 per cent from £483-million to £87-million, representing a loss of £3.8-million to the local authority.

Scott Mann, the Conservative MP for North Cornwall, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “I welcome the announcement of additional funding for authorities including Cornwall Council by the Secretary of State. I have regular in-person meetings with Ministers and make direct representations on behalf of North Cornwall, including recent discussions about increasing local authority funding and care costs - both included in this announcement.

“I am proud to be delivering record levels of funding for North Cornwall and it is something that my constituents want to see continue.”

A spokesperson for the North Cornwall Conservative party said that further details would be announced in the upcoming budget, adding: “The Rural Services Delivery Grant, which is a specific programme designed to support areas like Cornwall will benefit from a £15-million increase to the grant in 2024/25. This is an increase of over 15 per cent making available a total of £110-million next year. This is the largest cash increase in the Rural Services Delivery Grant in five years.

“Cornwall Council has also faced cost pressures because of high inflation over the past two years and can expect a guaranteed share of this additional funding. The government has also announced an additional £500-million of funding for local government to deliver social care. This is further to the £1 billion in additional funding announced at Autumn Statement 2022 and July 2023. It will enable local councils to continue to provide crucial social care services for their local communities, particularly for children.”

Colin Martin, the Cornwall Council member for Lostwithiel and Lanreath in addition to being the leader of the Liberal Democrats at the authority, criticised the news.

He said: “When I first heard about the £500-million extra funding for Cornwall Council, I was delighted.

“That would cover the costs of inflation and the increased demands for emergency accommodation for homeless families, Adult Social Care, and children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

“It would also allow us to start paying care workers £2 per hour above the National Living Wage, which would provide a huge boost to recruitment and finally take some pressure off our over-stretched NHS. We could even begin to invest in energy efficiency and heat pumps for Council houses. But £500-million is actually the total grant for England, not just for Cornwall Council.”

Cllr Martin said that the announcement was timed to coincide with a £400-million cut to another grant, known as the services grant, which he claimed meant that Cornwall Council will lose £3.8-million prior to the newly announced funding coming into force.

He continued: “It’s the oldest trick in the political book. First, you quietly take away money with one hand, then you loudly give it back with the other. It’s exactly the same story with personal taxation; the government expects us to be grateful for cutting the average worker’s National Insurance bill by £450 per year, but after 25 Tory tax hikes and sky-high interest rates, most families are out of pocket by more than that amount every single month!

“Despite the Conservatives cutting Cornwall’s central government grant by 84 per cent between 2015 and 2021, careful financial management by the Liberal Democrats left a balanced budget. But since the Conservatives took control of the council, the finances have spiralled into chaos. Despite increasing council tax by five per cent every year (something which they criticised in opposition), the Conservatives have sacked hundreds of key workers and cut back on essential services such as road maintenance. And even after all this, they now face a £57-million budget shortfall this year alone.

“Fourteen years of Conservative austerity have left us with bigger debts, higher taxes and shattered public services. It really is the worst of all worlds! Meanwhile Labour is so afraid of opinion polls that they won’t commit to any of the investment we need to turn things around. Only the Liberal Democrats are brave enough to say that spending money on decent public services actually saves money in the long run because it empowers people to live healthier, more productive lives, boosting the economy and reducing the strain on public services."