Cost of Public Services: Coastal Areas

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – in the House of Commons am ar 22 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Ceidwadwyr, St Austell and Newquay

What recent estimate he has made of the additional cost to the public purse of councils delivering public services in coastal areas.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

Cornwall is one of the most beautiful areas of the country, second only to Dorset. [Interruption.] Thank you. It has the longest county coastline in England and, as such, its council faces unique challenges in delivering services. The Government are committed to reforming the local government funding landscape in the next Parliament to deliver simpler, fairer and longer settlements. As part of that process, the Government have previously publicly announced that they are exploring options for specific formulae for flooding and coastal erosion. We will engage councils about those options as reform progresses.

Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Ceidwadwyr, St Austell and Newquay

The Government have already accepted the additional cost of delivering services in rural areas through the rural services delivery grant, but they have not yet accepted those additional costs for coastal areas. Would the Minister consider establishing a coastal services delivery grant to ensure that coastal regions such as Cornwall, which as he said has the longest—and most beautiful—coastline in the country, get the funding that they need?

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

Second most beautiful, I remind my hon. Friend. He makes an important point, representing as he does his constituents and the wider county of Cornwall, and an interesting suggestion. Strong points sit behind his argument. I would be delighted to meet him to discuss that further, but he makes good points and gives me food for thought.

Photo of Sarah Dyke Sarah Dyke Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Somerton and Frome

The cost of delivering services in Somerset is rising, with care costs rising by 47% between 2022 and 2023, yet urban councils receive about 38% more Government funding spending power per head than rural councils. What steps is the Department taking to address that inequality and help rural councils to deliver vital public services?

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

As the hon. Lady will know, the rural services delivery grant tries to reflect that as well, but if only the Lib Dem leadership of her council had got on—as Dorset did—and delivered the benefits of going unitary, rather than fiddling while Rome burns, her situation might be a little better.