A LOCAL finance boss has written to the government warning that its 'hand to mouth' approach to Whitehall grants to town halls is disadvantaging her borough and its residents.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive member for resources Cllr Vicky McGurk was responding to last month's provisional local government finance settlement.

It saw the all-purpose authority's settlement rise from £58.2million to £58.6m for 2022/23 including a one million pound increase in the grant for providing adult and children's social care.

While Cllr McGurk acknowledges that some aspects of the cash deal were better than expected, she said the allocation system still discriminated against Blackburn with Darwen Borough.

And she calls on ministers to allow the all-purpose authority the flexibility to increase its council tax by more than the 2.99 per cent permitted without a referendum on the rise.

Cllr McGurk also expresses concern over the government's shift from a general Rate Support Grant to other more specific payments.

Her letter to the local government department is included in a report on the impact of the settlement to Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive board on Thursday next week.

It says: "I would urge the Government to move away from the ‘hand to mouth’ policy of grant funding allocations which, in my view, is too dependent on a competitive bid-based approach for a range of relatively small pots of funding.

"This fragmentation of the grant funding landscape combined with the high costs of, often, unsuccessful bidding is far from efficient.

"Government needs to provide adequate resources for investment in infrastructure in places like Blackburn with Darwen to make up for the underlying lack of investment experienced over many years that has led to the inability of the local economy to grow and compete with other places.

"I maintain the view that councils should have the flexibility to increase council tax, taking account of local circumstances, without the need for a referendum.

"Of all unitary councils, Blackburn with Darwen has one of the highest number of properties in Band A. These make up almost 60 per cent of properties.

"Given Blackburn with Darwen has a number of areas of high deprivation, this is an issue which needs to be properly factored into any approach to future funding allocations.

"I welcome the additional funding for social care."