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(UK) S. Dorset: Govt grant money needed; $95M deficit for high needs students

Feb 16, 2022, Bournemouth Daily Echo: South Dorset MP calls for fairer distribution of Revenue Support Grant

S. Coast England CONCERNS have been raised following news the Dorset Council area will not receive any Revenue Support Grant (RS) for the third year running. South Dorset MP Richard Drax has raised concerns for 'unfair distribution' of the RS in the House of Commons amid fears the county is missing out. RS is a central Government grant given to local authorities which can be used to finance revenue expenditure on any service. Mr Drax spoke at a Parliamentary debate and raised concerns the Dorset Council area has received no RS, compared to other unitary councils, which have received funding - including Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (£3,005,000) [$4M]. Mr Drax said: "Our income is 85 per cent from Dorset taxpayers, versus 67 per cent on average for other unitary councils. "Dorset sets one of the highest council taxes in the country, and the unfair proportion of it lands on the Dorset council tax payers with precept rises in various areas of tax…. Mr Drax added: "I know the Government want to go further with other authorities, and we cannot be seen to fail. "The unfair distribution of the revenue support grant means that we get none. "The business retention rate is lower in Dorset than elsewhere, and the rural authority has additional costs that are not accounted for. "That's where the funding formula needs to change. "We also have an accumulated debt of £70 million [$95M] on the high-needs block for children with special educational needs. "The Department for Education’s support is needed to eliminate that debt. "For example, one child I know is costing the council £1.5 million [$2M] to get the care that they need, but that care has to be provided from outside the county and that is costing Dorset Council vast sums of money. "Next year’s budget proposals include a three per cent increase in council tax and an almost one per cent increase for the social care precept. "That means that for adult social care there is a 10 per cent increase of £13 million to £141 million [$192M]. "For children’s services, there is a four per cent increase of £2.7 million [$3.7M] to £74.5 million [$100M] —mainly for children in care and for disabled and SEN children….

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