A grant of £50,000 is being allocated to the Isle of Wight by the government, to review the extra costs of Island life.

But potentially millions of pounds in extra cash - the long-awaited Island Deal - remain on hold, as the country copes with Covid-19.

Announced by the Local Government Secretary, in a raft of national funding measures, £50,000 will be spent on reviewing the challenges faced by the Isle of Wight Council, Islanders and businesses.

The Isle of Wight's MP has welcomed the announcement, but in parliament Bob Seely challenged the government to confirm it would definitely grant the Island the millions of pounds needed, if research confirms that we do face extra cost in delivering public services, including health, policing and fire.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The Isle of Wight's only hospital - St Mary's in Newport

The Island has long been promised the consideration of an Island deal - including by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

An announcement had been expected in the autumn, Isle of Wight Council Leader Cllr Dave Stewart said, before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the County Press previously reported, when the Fair Funding Review was delayed, the council opted not to rely on an Island premium in proposing its 2021/22 budget.

Instead, it forecast an extra £3 million from government due to our Island status -a review has estimated we lose out by £6.4 million.

Speaking this week, in a Westminster debate on the Local Government Finance Report, Mr Seely said it was 'hugely frustrating' that the fair funding formula had been put on hold but that 'we completely understand the reasons why'.

He said: "We on the Isle of Wight have had an additional £100 million in the course of the past year in loans and grants to support businesses and individuals, and that money has flowed pretty quickly through the Isle of Wight Council.

"I am very grateful for the Isle of Wight chief executive, the council leader and, in fact, the entire team on the Island, who have done a great job."

Mr Seely said "it would probably be illegal and open to challenge" if the Island Deal was handed to the Island straight away.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely

Will additional costs be met?

Welcoming the £50,000 for a review, Mr Seely said: "If we show that there are additional costs, which there undoubtedly are, and those are caused by our separation by sea, and the aim of the fair funding formula is actually to be fair, will the Government give me a commitment, within reason, that, if those additional costs are identified in the research that will be done by his Department and the council, those additional costs will be met?"

Luke Hall, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government said: "I am delighted that we are finding a way forward to work with his local authority to ensure that it can help to build the evidence case on the relative challenges facing the Island because of its separation from the mainland, with a particular focus on the impact of the local government finance system."

"I am delighted that we are finding a way forward" - Luke Hall, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government

Wider package 

Today's announcement is part of a wider £51.3 billion being handed to councils across England next year, in a variery of grants and sectors.

Helping councils deliver services and support communities during Covid-19, new houses and areas unable to balance the books are all being targeted.

The government argues it will protect council taxpayers from excessive increases.

On the Isle of Wight, County Hall looks set to rubber stamp a 4.99 per cent increase (the highest available option without a public consultation and including 3 per cent for adult social care and 1.99 per cent on other council tax) later this month, the police precept is rising by 7 per cent, the fire precept is going up by 1.99 per cent and some areas will also see a parish/town council precept rise from April.

Isle of Wight County Press:

County Hall, Newport, where the Isle of Wight Council is based

Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: "Councils have played a key role during the pandemic by delivering vital services and supporting the most vulnerable backed with over £8 billion of emergency support from government to date.

"This is a fair and generous settlement that gives councils the resources they to continue to deliver important services and support their communities while protecting council tax payers from excessive increases."

Money will also be handed out in support of the New Homes Bonus scheme in 2021-22 - rewarding councils for the number of additional new homes.

The Isle of Wight's MP is spearheading a campaign to save greenbelt land from what he says are excessive housing targets for the Isle of Wight.

Grants for rural areas are being handed out, alongside cash for some councils unable to balance their budgets are being given cash on an 'exceptional basis' - but they must carry out a financial review.

Councils will also be given more flexibility to use capital receipts on transformation projects that produce long-term savings and there is money for some areas to fund independent living - for those with disabilities to live at home and not in care.