THE leader of Worcestershire County Council has sent a critical letter to the Government voicing dismay over funding cuts, it has emerged.

Councillor Simon Geraghty, the Conservative chief at County Hall, claims Worcestershire is £7 MILLION worse off than it should be due to unfair Whitehall settlements.

He has also hit out at Worcestershire being "penalised" by not raising council tax bills by the largest possible amount, and expressed "disappointment" over temporary solutions to Britain's adult social care crisis.

The revelation has led to the opposition Labour group calling for a cross-party delegation to visit London for face-to-face talks.

Last month ministers invited council leaders to take part in a yearly consultation over the local government finance settlement, which is helping part-fund a £323 million budget for 2017/18.

But the complicated funding offers are calculated under a myriad of assessments including a phrase called 'damping', where some money is taken away from councils and redistributed elsewhere to ensure no authority is stung by sudden, harsh changes.

But it takes no account of pressures like elderly care, rural sparsity or children's services, which are draining the budget.

In his letter, Cllr Geraghty said the council is "currently funded £7 million less than central Government's own assessment" of what Worcestershire actually needs, as a result of losing money under the damping process.

Worcestershire's assistance for 2017/18 is yet to be fully confirmed, but includes a Revenue Support Grant of around £20 million and upwards of £77 million in other specific grants.

A special one-year top-up of £2.4 million is on the way to help fund elderly care, but the Government has promised it for just one year only - and made controversial cuts to another kitty called the New Homes Bonus to fund it.

Around £29 million is being slashed from spending, in real terms, for 2017/18 to balance the books.

A vote is taking place this Thursday about raising council tax 2.9 per cent, but the Government has already made it clear counties can opt for a one-off hike of five per cent, and will be rewarded for doing so.

In his letter, Cllr Geraghty said County Hall was being "penalised" for not going the full hog.

The budget situation was discussed during a cabinet meeting yesterday, where Labour group leader Cllr Peter McDonald made him an offer.

"I don't believe for one minute the Government understands the consequences of its actions," he said.

"I'd like to accompany you to London to put our case forward."

His suggestion was backed by Lib Dem group leader Cllr Liz Tucker, who said until 2001 there was "always a tradition of cross-party lobbying to Government".

Cllr Geraghty cited his letter, adding: "There is a debate to be had with the Government."

Last year Cllr Geraghty managed to secure an extra £5 million from the Government after citing similar funding concerns, just weeks after becoming leader.

Worcester News:


A BUDGET gap of £2.9 million for 2017/18 has been closed after a series of adjustments were made to the council's spending plans.

In recent months the Worcester News has reported how the Conservative leadership has been grappling with the need to identify new savings, with a relatively small 'black hole' in the coffers for the forthcoming financial year.

Barring any last-minute changes all 57 councillors will be asked to vote on a balanced budget this Thursday, mainly due to a series of small recalculations.

Finance officers are predicting council tax collection to come in £800,000 under-forecast, but a combination of technical budget adjustments means the spending plans should balance out.

The 2.94 per cent council tax rise will add around £33 to the typical band D bill, but it will end up at over £40 once the extra precepts from district councils and the fire service are added in.