Political leaders have mounted a joint campaign to get a fair funding deal for Dudley Council to ensure vital services have enough money.
A letter, signed by both political group leaders, has been sent to the government calling for a “fair deal for Dudley”.
It comes as the government plans its fair funding review which will look at how money is allocated to local authorities from 2020/21.
Dudley has seen greater reductions in funding than many other authorities, with a 29 per cent real terms drop in spending power in Dudley since 2010, compared to just 15 per cent in Surrey, for example.
The letter calls for more advance notice on how money is allocated to the authority to allow for better planning. It also asks for more consideration to allocating adequate funding in densely populated urban areas like Dudley and would like the demographics of Dudley to be taken into consideration, as opposed to more rural areas.
Dudley has kept its council tax low for many years, and has one of the lowest rates in the country. But this restricts how much money can be raised locally to fund services, compared to areas with much higher council tax rates. Council bosses have asked for special consideration towards these historic low rates in Dudley when funding is allocated from government.
Group leaders have jointly signed the letter which has been sent to Communities Secretary James Brockenshire MP.
Councillor Qadar Zada, leader of Dudley Council, said:
For a number of years Dudley has seen worse cuts than some other councils which has forced the council to relook at the services it provides. This is adding great stress and strain on Dudley as a Borough and our residents.
We feel our hands are tied with the way that funding is allocated by central government and that is why we have written this letter to government.
We want local people in Dudley to have the best possible provision and that is only possible if the government changes the way it allocates its funding to Dudley.
How can it be fair that local authorities in England with communities ranked in the top 20 per cent for health deprivation and disability have faced an average reduction in spending power of £205 per head – 12 times the average for places in the bottom 20 per cent.
This short-changes the people of the borough, something we are keen to try and address.
Since taking control of the council we have been leading the call for a fair deal for Dudley because we don't believe that the people of this borough should be treated differently.”
Councillor Pete Lowe, cabinet member for finance, said:
We all want to make sure that Dudley gets its fair share of funding. The letter highlights a number of areas where the level of imbalance can be addressed, which if acted on will ensure the people of Dudley get a fair funding deal.”
The authority has already formally backed a “fair deal for Dudley” at a meeting of the full council last year.
The council’s draft budget proposals were announced in October which included plans for a 2.99 per cent increase in the basic rate of council tax with a further 1.5 per cent increase, which will go specifically to adult social care services. The basic rate equates to less than £1 extra a week on most properties and importantly, means you will still pay one of the lowest council tax rates in the country.
There are also planned investments to support local residents including targeting fly-tippers with a deep clean of the borough and more prosecutions where possible, free night-time parking to support the local economy, promoting recycling, improvements in housing, additional monies for social care provision and having a zero approach to rough sleeping.
There are also planned investments in frontline services despite the challenges from government funding for local authorities.
A series of scrutiny committees last month gave people the chance to have their say on the proposals as part of the annual consultation. People can also have their say online here on the council's homepage at www.dudley.gov.uk