Fair Funding

Last Friday I met local GPs in Arundel to listen to their concerns about recruitment problems and to discuss what might be done to address the problems.  I am very concerned about this issue.

I also met the heads of all the major health trusts in West Sussex recently to discuss how new, collaborative forms of working could help to address the ever growing pressures on local health services.

West Sussex MPs have been going in to bat for our county again.  On Monday we took a delegation of head teachers to see the Education Minister, Sam Gyimah, to discuss fair funding for local schools.

Following a lot of work by MPs the Government has already announced a national funding formula for schools, a very welcome development which should help to ensure fairer funding for West Sussex schools in due course.

In the meantime, local head teachers are concerned about their school finances, so we discussed with the Minister what transitional help might be available.

We must recognise that it would be very difficult for the Government to announce extra help before the new formula is consulted on and introduced, but the Minister listened carefully and undertook to consider our request.

I have also been working with other MPs representing rural constituencies to press for fair funding for our councils, and again we have had some success.  The Communities and Local Government Secretary, Greg Clark, has listened to our concerns.

On Monday he announced that West Sussex County Council will receive an extra additional transitional grant funding from central government of £6.17 million in 2016/17 and £6.25 million in 2017/18.

Our local district councils will also receive slightly more than expected.  But, much more significantly, the Secretary of State also announced a Fair Funding Review to consider the appropriate funding needs of different types of areas.

He pointed out in the ten years since the current formula was last looked at,  certain areas may have been particularly affected by demographic pressures such as the growth in the elderly population.  I believe this review could be very positive for West Sussex, which we know has been historically disadvantaged.

These are all challenging issues, but I will continue to work with my fellow West Sussex MPs to get the best deal we can for our local communities.