Poorer Labour-voting areas face bigger spending reductions than wealthy Tory shires, according to two critical analyses of the 2015-16 local authority funding settlement
The most deprived councils continue to see the biggest cuts in government funding, with traditionally Labour-voting areas in the north of England and inner city London losing out the most, according to an analysis of the 2015-16 town hall funding settlement.
The study by Newcastle-upon-Tyne city council claims that leafy shire areas in the Tory-voting south-east are again more protected against the cuts than their northern and urban counterparts, debunking ministerial claims that they had delivered a settlement that is “fair to all parts of the country”.
The Government’s claim to be fair to councils in all parts of the country is complete bunkum.
[The true figure should include] funding that councils have available to meet their priorities and fund existing staff and commitments and which is not already ring-fenced for other use. This includes Revenue Support Grant, retained business rates, council tax and a number of special grants that authorities are free to spend as they wish. In contrast [the government’s] measure also includes Public Health Grant (which can only be spent on public health matters) and the Better Care Fund (which is largely NHS money or budgets that local authorities have pooled with the NHS, and can only be spent on priorities agreed with local NHS managers).
While closer co-operation between local authorities and the NHS is fundamental to better outcomes in social care, to portray money already spent through pooled budgets as extra funding is seriously distorting, not least because the same money appears to be counted as NHS funding as well. The figures presented by the Government also appear to hide the true impact of cuts upon some local authorities. Once you peer behind the opaque measurement of funding used today, you see that the disparity of impact across the country and between different types of authority is significant and needs to be considered carefully by policy makers.
The heat maps we produce uncannily resemble the political map of the country showing that the Government is presiding over a wholesale shift of resources predominantly from the north to the south of England. Continue reading...