Doncaster mayor challenges Michael Gove to 'match his words' on reviewing funding for areas with lower council tax income

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones has challenged cabinet minister Michael Gove to act on his own words on properly funding struggling councils.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 4:52 pm
Michael Gove

Her comments come as DMBC finance bosses laid out another grim monetary outlook which suggests the local authority is facing a funding gap between £8 million and £12 million over the next few years.

Mayor Jones referenced a speech Mr Gove gave who said that areas with high numbers of properties with low values should have their funding reviewed.

Doncaster has nearly 87 per cent of homes between Bands A to C which means the maximum council tax rise will raise very little in comparison to places like Surrey and London boroughs.

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Doncaster mayor Ros Jones

Mr Gove – who was given the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities role in the most recent reshuffle – announced the government is exploring how it can redistribute funding to local areas with less tax income.

DMBC is facing the multi-million pound black hole in its finances as bosses point to rising costs in social care, wages and pressures of the pandemic.

Mayor Jones told a recent meeting that the main pressures are in adult and children’s social care with some of the additional pressures relating to the pandemic.

A report seen by councillors also highlights ‘significant pressures’ in relation to the ring-fenced Dedicated Schools Grant which allocates money to schools based on deprivation and other factors.

Finance chiefs also said there was ‘considerable uncertainty’ in relation to forecasting funding from central government.

The Chancellor’s Autumn budget and Spending Review in October, 2021 ‘provided some details’ but bosses added that the funding settlement for Doncaster ‘is expected to be made available by mid-December.

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones said the council now had 29 per cent less funding in real terms than it did 10 years ago and this equated to £350 per resident. She added that the borough had been ‘one of the hardest hit’ from austerity measures.

“We’ve got to commend all our officers who put every effort in to ensure that we keep within a balanced budget, knowing all the additional pressures that are coming on this council and by collectively working together, we will get through it.

But let’s not forget the £120 million per annum going out and we’re having to bid for small sums like 20 million as one off funding.

“There’s no comparison with the steady revenue stream. What we need is proper revenue funding.

“I will wait and see what Michael Gove has said where he said councils with lower council tax bases should be looked at and reviewed because we of course, have quite a low council tax base.

“I believe the figure is something like 86 per cent of our properties are within Band A to Band C and therefore and therefore, I look to see Michael Gove actually follow through on his words – they will properly enhance councils that way.”