There have been two major funding announcements for our area in the last fortnight.
In the first, North Devon Council won £8.5 million from the government to help deliver two vital housing projects in Ilfracombe and Barnstaple.
These grants – from the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund – will kick-start the Southern Extension in Ilfracombe and the Westacott development in Barnstaple. I’m particularly pleased with the Ilfracombe announcement. The town has often been overlooked for funding, so this is very welcome news indeed.
Of course the usual planning processes will have to be followed, and we must have all the necessary infrastructure – such as roads, schools and health services -to go with the homes. But overall, these projects will go a long way to delivering many of the affordable homes that people in North Devon need. I'm delighted to have worked with the Council to win these vital grants.
The second announcement came last week, and involved the funding Devon County Council gets from central government.
Let me be clear – Devon, in common with many other largely rural counties, has not had its fair slice of the funding cake for many years, under governments of all colours.
In my time as MP, I've lobbied hard for a fairer deal. We're now making some progress.
For the coming financial year (2018/2019), Devon will have what's called Core Spending Power of £537.8 million, that's an increase of £17 million or 3.3%.
Significantly, we'll receive £3.7 million above what was originally announced in the draft settlement in December. The extra money will be to help support vulnerable people and to provide services in rural areas. Again, this is a result of intense lobbying from myself and other Devon MPs.
Devon will also benefit from being allowed to keep 100% of the business rates it collects, rather than Whitehall taking a cut. This is estimated to be worth an additional £10 million in funding.
So, we're getting there. Our voice is being heard in a way that hasn't happened for years. There's still some way to go, and rest assured I'll keep fighting.