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Minister's pledge to review Isle of Wight finances

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 16:20

A GOVERNMENT minister has pledged to review funding for the Isle of Wight Council, it has been announced today (Wednesday).

In a statement issued by his office, while MPs debated Local Government finance, Mr Turner said he had secured an agreement from Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark to examine the 'unique costs' faced by the Isle of Wight Council.

Mr Turner said: "At long last we have recognition that the current funding formula is unfair to the Island. I had positive and constructive discussions with Greg and he recognises that any new deal must address the costs of providing services here. 

"We also need help with such issues as meeting the needs of the high number of elderly people living on the Island. Everybody realises that money is in short supply, but I have the Secretary of State’s assurances that he will find ways to help the Council stay afloat until the new formula is in place. 

"The Government also understands that, as a small unitary authority, we do not have the same officer resources as some other Councils to make our financial case, and we are also being offered assistance with that. On that basis I will be supporting the Government this afternoon."

Greg Clark said: "Andrew and the Isle of Wight Council working together have made a strong case for the Island and I understand that the Island faces unique challenges. We inherited a funding formula from Labour and within the coalition we could not reach agreement to change it. 

"This Conservative Government is determined to build a fair settlement for local government and the review will consider the costs associated with being separated from the mainland.

"I was also pleased to accept Andrew’s invitation to come down to the Isle of Wight, and meet with local leaders to continue the cross-party approach that has been taken so far."

The news was welcomed by Isle of Wight Council leader Cllr Jonathan Bacon, who yesterday hit out at the government's apparent failure to offer more support to the Island.

Cllr Bacon said: "I am pleased that it seems that Rt. Hon. Greg Clark recognises that the Island faces a unique set of circumstances and I hope that any consideration of the Island’s funding will ensure that we get a fair settlement relevant to our actual needs. 

"This seems to be formal recognition, for the first time, that the Island is unique and that through no fault of our own we face higher costs than in other areas, however, like other councils we will still have to make difficult decisions this year and into the future.

"Time will tell and everything will turn on the actual figures which we wait to see, however, I would like to thank Andrew for the help he has given us in getting to this position and the hope that this gives us the basis for a secure financial future for the Isle of Wight and its residents."

 


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