“Drastic cuts to local government funding have seen the UK’s most deprived metropolitan areas “shoulder the burden of austerity” while some more prosperous counties have flourished, according to new research.
Analysis by the TUC and public service union Unison of central government funding for local councils in England since 2010 highlights a yawning chasm between urban and rural areas. It shows that , overall, councils in England are spending £7.8bn a year less on key services than they did in 2010, which equates to a cut of £150m a week.
The analysis reveals that the 20 councils with the biggest funding gaps are overwhelmingly metropolitan boroughs in London and the north of England. Of these 18 are controlled by Labour; only one is Conservative-run.
In contrast, the 20 councils with the smallest funding cuts are overwhelmingly all Conservative-controlled county councils. Of these, 16 are controlled by the Conservatives and just two are Labour-run.
The analysis – using methodology employed by both the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Centre for Cities – found that Labour-run Salford Council is spending 38% – or £99m a year – less on key local services than a decade ago. That works out to £479 a year less per resident. …”
The Local Government Association estimates that in the past eight years, councils in general have lost 60p out of every £1 the government used to provide prior to the funding cuts. This has left councils increasingly reliant on raising income through council tax, business rates and other charges and fees. Urban councils in more deprived areas have found this task more difficult than their rural counterparts.
“Poorer parts of England have suffered most from the Conservatives’ local government cuts,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady. “By slashing central government funding, they have made deprived areas shoulder the burden of austerity. We need fair and sustainable funding for all of our communities. Key services have been cut to the bone.”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis agreed: “Local services hold communities together, but nine years of austerity has put paid to that. We’ve seen libraries shut, care visits reduced, allotments and parks sold off, youth centres closed, subsidised bus services scrapped and public conveniences axed. The government’s funding squeeze has forced councils to charge residents more, reduce key services or cut them altogether. Now the cupboard is virtually bare and some local authorities can no longer provide the legal minimum.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said it could not comment as it is currently in election purdah.”