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UNITARY STATUS RESULTS IN CARE CASH SHORTFALL

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West Berkshire Council is appealing to central government for more funds for its community care services. ...
West Berkshire Council is appealing to central government for more funds for its community care services.

Since becoming unitary in 1998, the council says it has been severely under-funded by central government, which has underestimated its requirements.

The council has taken the unusual step of publishing detailed information about its financial predicament.

Leader Keith Lock (Lib Dem) has written to health secretary Alan Milburn and local government secretary Stephen Byers asking them to reassess its grant. They are seeking meetings with ministers and MPs. The council spends double the amount alloted in its standing spending assessment on community care.

'We are determined to fight for better community care funding on behalf of our residents,' said Mr Lock. 'Like many small unitary councils, West Berkshire has faced acute funding problems since it was created, as Berkshire CC was spending far more in West Berkshire than central government had estimated we should when we took over in 1998.'

In exchange for more cash, the council has offered to agree targets. A recent government review showed the shortfall was due to low SSA allocation.

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