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Quarter of councils lose sparsity funding

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Almost thirty rural councils which were this week awarded funding to help deliver services in their sparsely populated local areas have now been told they will receive nothing after all.

Local government minister Brandon Lewis (Con) announced £8.5m funding for 113 councils as part of the final local government settlement, but data issued on Monday was reissued on Tuesday with changed allocations for every council on the list.

Twenty nine authorities informed of the grant on Monday were told on Tuesday they would get nothing, while six new authorities have been added to the list. Of those remaining on the list, some have lost 90% of the original allocation while others have seen their grant more than quadruple.

LGC understands a number of councils have contacted the department for an explanation but have not received any information.

Graham Biggs, chief executive of Sparse, part of the Rural Services Network which campaigned for extra funding for rural councils, said DCLG had not explained why the change had taken place.

“We have been inundated with queries as to what is going on,” he said. “But we are in a position of not being able to answer them.”

One finance director from an authority which had lost out in the second list described the reissue of the allocations as “yet another example of total ineptitude in DCLG”.

A DCLG spokesman admitted its allocation list for the sparsity fund had been “temporarily incorrect”. She added: “As soon as we realised this - within 24 hours - the correct version was put on the website and councils were informed.”

In total, 58 authorities gained something or were added to the list while 68 lost funding or were removed from the list altogether.

The six authorities added to the list were Ashford BC, Boston BC, Carlisle City Council, Harrogate BC, Scarborough BC and West Berkshire Council with grants ranging from £3,600 to £24,000.

Authorities who were already on the list issued by the Department for Communities & Local Government but now have bigger grants include Eden BC which saw the biggest increase of 484%, with an allocation which has gone from £12,000 to £67,000 within a day.

Authorities who have lost their allocation completely include Oxfordshire CC which had been set to receive £465,000 to the Council of the Isles of Scilly which had been allocated £4,000 - see table below.

Of those who remain on the list, significant losers include Cambridgeshire CC whose allocation was cut by 91% from £342,000 to 32,000 and Bassetlaw BC which lost 95% from £13,000 to £649.

For full details of the new and old allocations and the difference between them see LGC’s data table.

Councils losing 100% of allocationOriginal allocation £m
Cheshire East0.205
Central Bedfordshire0.160
North Somerset0.144
Isle of Wight Council0.109
Cambridgeshire Fire0.038
South Oxfordshire0.019
Mid Sussex0.018
Tonbridge and Malling0.018
East Hampshire0.017
Test Valley0.017
Durham Fire0.016
West Lancashire0.014
East Dorset0.014
High Peak0.011
North West Leicestershire0.011
South Bucks0.010
North East Derbyshire0.010
North Warwickshire0.008
Isles of Scilly0.004
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Readers' comments (1)

  • If you think DCLG is in a poor way just wait until this unprotected department is assaulted by Osborne's next cuts while Eric Piffle holds his coat and cheers him on.

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