Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Tom Blenkinsop, will today (11th March 2014) use a Westminster Hall debate to highlight the regional variations in central government funding to local government.
All regions besides London having their local authority funding cut by approximately 40% between 2010/11 and 2015/16 but when we look at actual Revenue Spending Power, there is extremely large interregional variation. Revenue Spending Power takes into account a range of other sources of funding to local authorities, and gives a more real—in this instance—sense of the disparities between regions.
“Regions with high levels of deprivation and need are facing massive reductions, whilst regions with significantly lower levels of deprivation and need are facing much small reductions.
“The North East faces an 18% cut, the North West 17% cut, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber a 16% cut, and the East Midlands a 12% cut. On the other hand, the South West and East of England respectively face a relatively small 9% and 8% cut, and the South East a 6.6% cut.
“Conservative areas are generally receiving much smaller cuts or even budget increases, with the Lord Chancellor’s local authority—Epsom and Ewell—in fact receiving a 3.51% increase. In the same period, Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland face an approximate 30% cut.
“Locally, some Tories and Liberal Democrats accuse councils of somehow relishing in delight when cutting frontline services, claiming they are somehow seeking to score ‘political’ partisan points. This is clearly not the case. Councils are making cuts because the funding settlement forced upon them by central government necessitates it.
“Efficiency savings will only go so far to plug the funding blackhole the government has imposed on local government. Indeed, the scale of cuts faced by councils in the North East has led to some—like Newcastle City Council—warning that, in only a few years’ time, they will not even be able to afford to perform all their statutory duties.
“We desperately need a system of local government financing in which need and deprivation are properly considered, and in which local government has the resources it needs to thrive and to help local businesses grow. The Tories and Lib Dems have not—and will not—deliver a fair funding system, and it is only Labour that will do so.”