Cash boost for hard up council

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis. Picture: James Bass.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis. Picture: James Bass. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

Ministers have announced that a cash-strapped Norfolk council will get an unexpected £450,000 boost from central government.

Meanwhile other local authorities in rural areas like Norfolk will be able to bid for extra money from a new £8.5m fund being set up.

Over the last two years, Great Yarmouth Borough Council suffered deep cuts as Whitehall reined in spending, though the authority did benefit from a two-year 'transition grant' supplied from 2010.

With that grant ending and the next funding settlement promising a 19pc cut, the council was forced to ask for more cash from the government to make ends meet.

As a result local government minister Brandon Lewis had already told the authority it would qualify for an extra £1.8m this year through a new 'efficiency support grant'.

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But in the House of Commons last night Mr Lewis told MPs that the government would make available a further £450,000 this year to help the authority along.

He said: 'Thanks to the grant we've put in place, councils that deliver extra efficiencies by the end of the financial year will not receive just the money that was outlined to them in the 'efficiency support grant', when the provisional settlement was laid on the 19th of December.

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'[They] will in fact be looking to gain an extra 25pc on top of the money that they are expecting in year one.'

Under the terms of the efficiency support grant Yarmouth will qualify for a further £1.8m next year if it can show Whitehall officials it is making adequate savings.

Meanwhile, Mr Lewis announced that he would set up a further pot of cash that all rural councils could apply to for extra funding.

Some £8.5m will be given to those rural authorities that can show they are making their operations more efficient by sharing services, management and by handling assets more effectively.

Mr Lewis added: 'We have announced £8.5m worth of additional funding in 2013/14 as a separate new grant so that areas with the sparsest populations get some help to get to some of the efficiencies that they want to get to.'

He added: '[Councils] like Breckland, Mendips and South Lakeland will feel the benefit of the change and the opportunity there for rural areas.'

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