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Dorset and Somerset MPs unite in calls for more council funding

MPs Chris Loder (Con, West Dorset) and Sarah Dyke (Lib Dem, Somerton & Frome) have come together in a rare show of unity – calling for better funding for councils.

The pair are among dozens of MPs who have signed a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling for extra funding for councils in a bid to avoid cuts to services.

Ms Dyke’s largest local authority, Somerset Council, has already declared a ‘financial emergency’ as it battles to balance the books, while Dorset Council – the largest in Mr Loder’s constituency – has proposed a council tax rise of just under 5% as costs rise.

The Government said it has increased funding for local authorities by £64 billion, but some 40 MPs who signed the letter said they remain “exceptionally concerned”.

It detailed how MPs were “disappointed” at the lack of a fresh funding package for councils in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

“The past 12 months have been tough financially for many of the communities that we represent given the unprecedented level of inflation and demand for services,” it went on.

READ MORE: Council tax could rise by 5% in Dorset is budget plans approved
READ MORE: Somerset Council could declare bankruptcy amid ‘financial emergency’
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“We are therefore exceptionally concerned that without any additional investment, the overwhelming majority of upper-tier councils in our areas are planning service reductions and higher council tax in order that they can pass a balanced budget for the next financial year, as they are legally required to do.”

They called on the Government to act before the Local Government Settlement comes before the Commons next month, to ensure “councils in our areas can continue to provide the services our residents depend upon on a regular basis”.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: “We recognise councils are facing challenges and that is why we have announced a £64bn funding package – a real terms increase at an average of 6.5% – to ensure they can continue making a difference, alongside our combined efforts to level up.

“We recently consulted on the final settlement for next year and are now considering the responses carefully. Councils are ultimately responsible for their own finances, but we remain ready to talk to any concerned about its financial position.”

The group of MPs who signed the letter includes former Local Government Secretary of States Robert Jenrick and Greg Clark, as well as prominent former cabinet members such as Priti Patel, Therese Coffey, Damien Green, and Brandon Lewis.

It also includes former local government ministers Neil O’Brien, Heather Wheeler, Kit Malthouse, and Jake Berry.

The full list of MPs who signed the letter is:

Cllr Ben Bradley MP, Chair, County All-Party Parliamentary Group
Peter Aldous MP
Caroline Ansell MP
Harriet Baldwin MP
Sir Jake Berry MP
Steve Brine MP
Rt Hon Greg Clark MP
Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey MP
Alberto Costa MP
Dame Caroline Dinenage MP
Flick Drummond MP
Sarah Dyke MP
Vicky Ford MP*
George Freeman MP
Mark Garnier MP
Rt Hon Damian Green MP
Rt Hon Sir Robert Goodwill MP
Sally Ann Hart MP
Gordon Henderson MP
Darren Henry MP
Tom Hunt MP
Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP
Danny Kruger MP
Pauline Latham OBE MP
Andrew Lewer MP
Tim Loughton MP
Rt Hon Sir Brandon Lewis MP
Sir Julian Lewis MP
Ian Liddell-Grainger MP
Chris Loder MP
Karl McCartney MP
Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP
Nigel Mills MP
Rt Hon Caroline Noakes MP
Neil O’Brien MP
Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Dr Dan Poulter MP
Tom Randall MP
Bob Seely MP
Andrew Selous MP
Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne MP
Derek Thomas MP
Robin Walker MP
James Wild MP
Heather Wheeler MP
Daniel Zeichner MP

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