The Government has this week announced a package of funding to ease the burden of cuts on local councils. Despite these promises, analysis of the final Local Government Settlement found that 83 per cent of the extra £300 million available would go to Conservative councils. While southern county councils will get the most relief, major urban areas including Derby will not see a penny of the transitional funding.
SIGOMA , of which Derby City Council is a member authority, has based its video ‘Game of Cuts’ on the TV drama ‘Game of Thrones’, to show how deprived areas are being repeatedly hit with cuts while more prosperous regions are shielded.
The institute found that local authorities’ spending per person had been slashed by 23.4 per cent in real terms during this parliament, while more deprived areas and those with faster population growth – cities like Derby – have seen larger cuts.
Researchers also warned that further cuts planned by the Government for 2015-16 would generally be focused on those same authority areas that have already been hit the hardest.
That could be bad news for Derby and its residents. When Fair Deal for Derby was first launched back in 2012, the cut per person was around £75.77, compared with just a few pounds in wealthy southern areas.
Since then, the cuts have only got deeper, with £96m slashed from the council’s budgets in the last four years and another £69m due to be taken from the city by 2018.
The Government have argued that these authorities have higher spending power; however this fails to take account of the fact that they also have the greatest demand for council services.
Policies like the New Homes Bonus and the Council Tax Freeze Grant further exaggerate the unequal distribution of Government funding.
The government’s Council Tax Freeze is worked out based on the Council Tax Base – how much we raise through tax – and not on need. The inequality could be compounded in future if the grant is withdrawn as more deprived authorities will tend to have a larger gap to make up.
Since 2012 the phase ‘graph of doom’ has been used with increasing regularity when talking about the future of local government. First used by Barnet Council, it’s a PowerPoint slide showing that within 20 years, unless things change dramatically, councils will be unable to provide any services except adult social care and children’s services.
No libraries, no parks, no leisure centres – not even bin collections.