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No funds pledge for Shropshire, but local government minister meeting 'a success'

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A visit from local government minister Greg Clark has been hailed a huge success by council chiefs – despite no promises for extra funding.

Mr Clark travelled to the county to discuss with leaders of Shropshire Council the ongoing financial problems it faces as it tries to save millions from its budget.

Members had hoped to secure extra cash after putting the case forward that the county gets a raw deal in the way Government decides to hand out funding.

Among the issues discussed was the county's growing adult social care bill.

Mr Clark couldn't make any promises or hand out grants, but Shropshire Council leader Malcolm Pate said it was a very positive meeting.

He said: "It was a very constructive meeting with the minister, we have in some detail gone through our case regarding extra funding for Shropshire.

"The minister understood the background of the cost of delivering adult social care. I think he has grasped that.

"We understand he couldn't just give Shropshire a pile of money. But we shall be making our case about why Shropshire is special and why we do need help over the next two years."

Leaders at Shirehall have claimed that with a larger than average elderly population, the current system for adult social care funding penalises Shropshire for being a place where people want to retire.

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Mr Clark pledged earlier this year to look at future funding for local Government as well as Better Care Funding with plans to come into place from 2019 and 2020.

Councillor Pate said that the MP gave assurances that changes would help rural councils and could ease pressures for Shropshire but it could not secure any "transitional funding" to help over the next two years.

Meanwhile, Shropshire Council's head of finance James Walton was offered a seat on a Government panel to look at how funding decisions are drawn up in the future.

Councillor Pate said: "We now have a member representing rural counties. It is a real coup for us."

Mr Clark discussed a number of suggestions to help with funding, but chief executive Clive Wright said he was pleased to say they had already implemented a number of the solutions.

The MP also spoke to representatives from the University Centre Shrewsbury about the ongoing work and impact on the local economy.

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