Poverty and Inequality

28.01.19

Liverpool mayor calls for council funding review as report reveals austerity cuts are ‘singling-out’ northern cities

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson has called for an urgent local government funding review after a new report revealed that austerity cuts have “hit hardest” in councils and communities in the north.

Centre for Cities’ annual report on UK city economies found that “worryingly, the cities least equipped to absorb the loss of central government grant have been hardest hit,” with the five cities worse affected all in the north of England.

It said that cities in the north have on average weaker economies and higher poverty rates and are therefore “less able to raise money locally,” making them more reliant on central government funding.

The two areas hit hardest by austerity were Barnsley, which has seen a 40% reduction in its day-to-day council spending since 2009-10; and Liverpool, which saw the deepest cuts in the country per resident.

Liverpool has lost £816 in funding for council services for every person living in the city, and Joe Anderson has called for the government to urgently review its funding formula for local authorities.

The report, which also reveals that cities and urban areas have suffered the most from funding cuts, found that cities in the north on average saw their spending cut by 20% compared to 9% for cities in the south west, east and south east – excluding London.

Cuts to local government services in Liverpool are 18% higher than the national average, and Anderson said the report “confirmed what I’ve been saying for years.”

“We’ve not been asking for special treatment – just fairness. If we’d have had the average cut of other councils, we’d be £80m better off.

“The government is turning a blind eye to the reality of what is happening to local authorities, in particular the poorest.

“Government urgently needs to revisit its plans for the funding formula and try and come up with one that is genuinely fair to everybody across the country. Only by doing so can places like Liverpool actually meets its needs and requirements to help those most in need.”

Liverpool has cut around 3,000 staff since 2010 and “tough decisions” have been made in adult social care as well as property, the voluntary sector, youth centres, and libraries.

Barnsley, Liverpool, Doncaster, Wakefield, and Blackburn made up the top five towns and cities with the highest percentage loss in funding, all more than a 25% reduction; whilst Luton and Oxford were the only two in the country to receive an increase at 21% and 15% respectively.

Andrew Carter, Centre for Cities chief executive, also urged the government to review its spending review, and said that whilst councils have managed as best they can, “the continued singling-out of local government for cuts cannot continue.”

Andrew will also be speaking at this year’s installation of EvoNorth, where investment across the Northern Powerhouse region will be discussed and debated. Don’t miss your chance to attend, visit the website here.

Image credit - Circle Creative Studio

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