There was no festive cheer for the Island in the figures published last week showing the government’s proposed funding for local authorities for the financial year 2022/23.
The provisional figures, published at the end of last week, include no element of the ‘Island Deal’ promised by Boris Johnson two and half years ago. When Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely asked the Prime Minister about its progress earlier this month, claiming that the results of a £50,000 study into the extra costs of delivering services on the Island were “imminent”, he was told that there was an “ongoing discussion”, and “I’m sure the relevant minister will keep him updated”.
Cllr Chris Jarman, the council’s cabinet member for finances and resources said: “It appears that the council is neither worse off, nor is it any better off. This is as we anticipated, hence the statements we have been making about having to deal with the government’s failure to address our needs ourselves, rather than waiting for assistance to be forthcoming.
“The apparent promises of additional money will only be sufficient to match the additional expected costs we have to face in the coming year.
“There is no sign of the promised Island Deal. There is perhaps a glimmer of hope in that the settlement is only for one year, which could, if one is being optimistic, suggest that the government is giving itself further time to look again at its fair funding review of local authorities.”
The provisional figures are open to consultation until January 13, and will then be voted on in the House of Commons before they are finally approved.
Council Leader Lora Peacey-Wilcox has said that the previous approach of “managing decline”, taken by Conservatives cannot continue, and the Alliance Group must seek to develop a financial strategy based on growth rather than cuts.
The council is currently running a consultation on the forthcoming budget which is open until January 21. Have your say at surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BD9VYJF.
PICTURED: Chris Jarman