Yesterday the government has written to county MPs and county leaders to confirm that the Fair Funding Review and 75% business rate retention would be delayed; instead the government signalled a commitment to implement both reforms in 2020-21.
The County Councils Network has campaigned vociferously for the Fair Funding Review to take place, and for reforms to genuinely eradicate historic underfunding of county authorities compared to urban councils. However, with the current unprecedented circumstances within Westminster, county leaders were willing to reluctantly accept a short delay in implementation of the new funding system in return for a ‘cast-iron’ guarantee that the government is committed to the review.
Below, the network responds to the announcement.
Cllr David Williams, chairman-elect of the County Councils Network, said:
“The confirmation that the fair funding review will be delayed is disappointing, but understandable. The County Councils Network (CCN) has already set out that due to the need for short-term certainty and the current situation in Westminster, it would be willing to accept a one-year delay in these reforms in return for a commitment to implement the review as soon as practicable.
“We are therefore pleased that councils have been reassured by the Secretary of State that these reforms are very important and confirms the government’s intentions to implement them by 2021/22. This is the reassurance we have sought from ministers and we will now work with them to publish the final proposals, which so far have made good progress.
“Equally, we anticipated and accept that reforms to 75% business rates retention would be delayed. We will continue to work with government on the design of the system and make the case for an equitable and fair tier share for county councils when the reforms are implemented.
“The priority for CCN has always been to secure additional funding for the sector, and the Secretary of State has clearly acted decisively on our advocacy in the Spending Round”.