COUNCILS in northern, urban cities and London boroughs with high levels of deprivation predominantly run by Labour have seen their budgets cut by almost 10 times the amount lost by mostly Tory- administered authorities in rural southern England during the Government's first spending round, according to official analysis.
Figures produced by Newcastle City Council show that, on average, local authorities faced a cut of £61 a year for each person in the total funding they received from government throughout the coalition's first comprehensive spending review, ending March, 2014. Newcastle had considered money poured into 330 local authorities directly and also through schemes such as the new homes bonus and the council tax freeze.
In the 50 worst councils affected by the Government's decision to slash local authority budgets from 2010, the average cut was £160 per head. This group included the poorest populations in Britain – such as the most deprived council in the country, Hackney, and struggling urban areas of the North such as Liverpool, Rochdale and South Tyneside. In this group, on average a third of children were living in poverty.
In contrast, the 50 councils least affected were those such as Wokingham, Richmond and Elmbridge – largely in the well-heeled south. They suffered cuts on average of £16 a head over the three-year period and had child poverty rates of 10%. Meanwhile, in Sefton, the Government has cut budgets by £350 per person.
Of the 50 worst-hit councils, 43 are Labour. Of the least-hit 50 councils, 42 are Tory. This looks like local government funding is being used to alleviate the impact of cuts on Tory voters at the expense of Labour voters.
This new information shows just how the Tories and Liberals have targeted cuts in a way that doesn't reflect the resources communities need.
The way that the cuts have hit councils like Sefton show just why it is having to consider closing libraries.
The Local Government Association says councils suffered a 28% cut in cash they get from central government between 2010/11 and 2014/15. However, the rising cost of social care would mean the money available by 2020 to fund council services like road maintenance, libraries and leisure centres will have shrunk by 90% in cash terms.
LGA chairman, Sir Merrick Cockell, said: “Councils have borne the brunt of cuts to public spending. They have worked hard to protect core services from the full impact but they are running rapidly out of wriggle room.”