The current system of funding for local authorities is not fair. It is not fair because the amount available to spend per head depends where you live. The spend per head in one London local authority - the highest in the country – is £1,170, whereas in North Yorkshire, it is £770 and in York, £615.
This is not just about the North/South divide, although it certainly doesn’t help, because whilst 9/10 local authorities with the highest spending power are in London, so are 9/10 with the lowest Council tax. So it really is a postcode lottery.
Of course there is an impact on our services in North Yorkshire from this unfair system. Libraries are closing or being moved to community libraries. Bus services will no longer be subsidised, so some will no longer operate. There is an effect on children’s services and crucially on adult social care, and we, of course, have a more elderly population in North Yorkshire.
We need to be careful that one unfair system is not replaced by another. We also need to ensure that any new formula is simpler so that people can understand and follow it. I believe we should use nine simple indications, including children’s services, adult social care, highways, fire, area costs, sparsity and density. This would give us a simple, standard, penetrable formula based not on where we live, but on a fair system with fair resources and a fair assessment of the cost drivers where we live.