MP: 'Funding inequality for Cornwall must come to end'
Cornwall gets less funding than it deserves for policing, local government, health and education, the Government has been told.
In the Commons, Dan Rogerson, Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, has outlined the cash shortfall of which the area suffers at the hands of Whitehall departments.
He urged the Government to make reforms to "move towards obtaining the funding to which Cornwall and similar areas are entitled".
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In response, Treasury Minister David Gauke said the Government would shortly announce changes to the system of "damping", a mechanism that is applied to equalise the increase in funding across the country so one area does not get significantly more money than another.
Mr Rogerson said the principle was "dreadful", and pays no mind to factors that mean providing services in the region are more expensive – such as because of a sparse rural population – leading to the region subsidising others.
The principle is to protect residents in a council area from a sudden and large loss of central government cash.
Mr Rogerson said Cornwall's shortfall was "a trend across many decades".
He said: "Historically, school per pupil funding, towards the tail end of the previous Parliament, was about £300 to £350 less than the national average.
"We have similar problems with the grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). In theory, we have a fair allocation but, historically, it does not take into account rurality, which is a key element for us across a range of services."
He added: "In policing, we ought to look at the issue of visitor numbers, which are not taken into account in the policing formula.
"There have been problems in Newquay which receives a big influx of young people in the summer. Huge steps have been taken to overcome some of the problems, but the costs of such initiatives are not reflected in the policing grant."
He added that from 2006 to 2012 Cornwall was in receipt of £201 million less NHS cash than the target.
In response, Mr Gauke said the Government has indicated it wants to "move away from damping".
On rurality, the minister said: "Again, DCLG has consulted on changes to the formula, and he will be aware that it will publish the draft local government finance settlement for 2013-14 for consultation shortly."
He added: "As a Government, we want to ensure that we have a fair funding formula, whether that be for health, education or local government.
"That is something that we recognise across Government, including in the Treasury."
He added Cornwall's reductions in "spending power" have been smaller than the average in England. DCLG is today expected to announce local government settlements for the next financial year against fears of deep cuts as the Government's austerity programme continues.