15.10.18

Study shows English councils suffering ‘territorial injustice’ from government spending cuts

 Research from Cambridge University has revealed that English councils have been hit twice as hard as councils in Scotland and Wales by spending cuts.

The analysis found that local authorities in England have suffered an average spending fall of almost 24% since 2010 compared to 12% in Wales and 11.5% in Scotland, which represents an “increasing inequality between local governments and increasing territorial injustice.”

The research also said that councils in southern England had experienced “relatively minor” cuts to services, a claim that southern councils have criticised as “misleading.”

The South East England Councils (SEEC) and South East Strategic Leaders (SESL) said the university’s study served only to “pit councils against each other” and ignores the fact that spending per person on local services is far higher in the major cities.

The study, ‘The depth of cuts,’ said that cuts in England were “deeper and more severe” due to devolved powers in the Scottish and Welsh governments, which enables them to find alternative funding sources.

“Austerity has actively reshaped the relationship between central and local government in Britain”, the study said, with London boroughs and major city’s budgets particularly suffering from council cuts.

It added: “This has resulted in a shrinking capacity of the local state to respond to the needs of their citizens for public services; a turn away from the provision of many discretionary, universal public services; increasing inequality between local governments themselves; and intensifying territorial injustice.”

Nottingham City Council released a statement in response to the findings, agreeing with the claim that the authority would be almost £60m better off a year if it was given the same austerity treatment as Surrey County Council.

It describes a revelation that cities in the most deprived areas of England have suffered the most under government austerity cuts.

Nottingham CC, which is currently carrying out consultations over the proposed unitary merger, has had its main government grant dropped from £126m to £35m in the last seven years, which equates to far more per household than the cuts seen in Surrey, who also received an additional transitional grant.

Nottingham’s deputy council leader, Graham Chapman, said: “The Cambridge University study published this week tells us what we have known since austerity measures were introduced a decade ago – the government has targeted deprived areas for the harshest cuts and shielded affluent areas from them.

“It’s a national scandal and one that here in Nottingham we’re doing our utmost to protect local residents from.

“Unfortunately, though, there are more difficult budget decisions to take before austerity comes to an end as the prime minister has promised.”

The response from SEEC and SESL says that despite larger percentage cuts in grants, London and northern councils still spend more per head than those in the south.

According to the study, London councils spend on average a third more per person than councils in the South East, and councils in the north west spend £84 on average per person compared to the £628 spent by their southern counterparts.

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Image credit - jax10289

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