Government have announced plans to redraw the council funding formula, meaning that money allocated to councils could no longer be weighted to reflect the higher costs of poverty and deprivation.
The proposed changes were released just before Christmas with the Government insisting it is a technical exercise designed to simplify the distribution of grants. However critics believe ministers have bowed to pressure from Tory county councils amid well publicised difficulties faced by counties such as Northamptonshire.
Despite the high profile examples in Tory heartland’s of failing local authorities, a recent Centre for Cities report found that 74% of cuts to local government funding over the last decade have fallen on cities – with the equivalent reduction of £386 per city dweller since 2009/10, compared to £172 per person living elsewhere.
The proposal to remove deprivation and poverty from the funding formula has drawn widespread criticisms from groups across the country. Commenting on this Sheffield City Council’s Deputy Leader Olivia Blake said
“This is one of the most shameful things this government has done – and that is really saying something.
“The Tories are proposing to remove deprivation from the foundation formula. It is simply outrageous to suggest services such as homelessness have nothing to do with deprivation and resource is only needed solely on the basis of population numbers.
“It is also well established that the cost of providing services increases in more deprived areas because need is greater due to inequalities. The Tories are once again taking from the most vulnerable.
“Urban districts in England have already suffered the sharpest real terms cuts since 2010 – with a reduction in revenue spending power of 33.9% compared with county councils seeing a reduction of 22.1% over the same period”.
“Why then are the government proposing this?. It’s no coincidence that over three quarters of Tory MPs represent constituencies covered by county councils
“Government spending cuts have impacted most on councils in more deprived areas already and yet the government are, shockingly, looking to make this worse still.
“Sheffield Labour councillors will fight this all the way – demanding a fairer settlement for our cities and our deprived areas.