Only one of Cornwall’s six Conservative MPs is among a number of politicians – including seven former cabinet members – to have written to the Prime Minister urging the Government to provide an emergency injection of funding for councils, in a bid to prevent major reductions to local services.

The letter comes a few days after cash-strapped Cornwall Council’s deputy leader, Cllr David Harris, sent his own letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP, also calling on the Government to urgently provide more support for local authorities.

The Government is currently consulting on its final Local Government Finance Settlement, which will be published next month. This will confirm how much funding councils in England will receive in 2024/25.

It follows November’s Autumn Statement which provided no new funding for local authorities despite the County Councils Network (CCN) highlighting its members were under extreme financial pressure and set to overspend this year by £650m, with councils facing a total £4bn funding deficit over three years.

In recent months Slough, Croydon, Thurrock, Woking, Birmingham City and Nottingham City have all issued notices effectively declaring themselves bankrupt. Cornwall Council says it’s not in immediate danger of going bankrupt but if things don’t change, it will be on a financial “cliff edge” within two years.

READ MORE: Cornwall Council heading towards financial ‘cliff edge’ within two years

With local authorities, including Cornwall, now having to make significant service reductions in their budgets next year, the 46 MPs who have signed the letter to PM Rishi Sunak say they are “exceptionally concerned” that residents will be faced with a “double whammy” of reductions in services and higher council tax rates in order for local authorities to deliver a balanced budget.

Among the MPs who have signed the letter are former Local Government Secretaries of State Robert Jenrick and Greg Clark, as well as former cabinet members such as Priti Patel, Therese Coffey, Damien Green and Brandon Lewis. The only one of Cornwall’s Tory MPs to sign it is West Cornwall’s Derek Thomas.

Part of the letter states: “We would urge you to do all you can to use the Final Local Government Finance Settlement to provide additional funding for local government to ensure that the councils in our areas can continue to provide the services that our residents depend upon on a regular basis.

“Furthermore, given the pressures that are being exerted on budgets we believe that any additional funding you are able to secure should be directed towards children’s services and home to school transport as combined these are exerting unprecedented pressure on local government services.”


Derek Thomas, Conservative candidate for St Ives.

Derek Thomas, Conservative candidate for St Ives.


In his letter to Mr Gove last week, Cllr Harris issued a stark warning that the sector faces a “financial abyss” and without additional funding even well-run councils risk “going to the wall”.

He wrote: “I have been portfolio Holder for resources since the Conservative Group became the majority party in Cornwall Council in 2021 and I have seen how tightly our finances are run, but I have now almost reached the stage of throwing my hands in the air in despair. Whichever way we turn we see financial issues that are outside of our control."

READ MORE: Government warned councils face 'financial abyss' if not given additional funding

Cllr Harris also called on the Government to intervene in key areas such as children’s services to address “systemic challenges in the ‘broken’ provider market” that are resulting in huge increases in the cost of placing children requiring care in the appropriate accommodation. “To be clear, we need both the immediate financial remedy and longer-term cure,” he added.

Other pressing issues identified by Cllr Harris include the delay in external audits of council finances and “years of chronic underfunding attributable to an archaic funding formula”.