District continues to face cuts while Tory councils in south gain funding (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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District continues to face cuts while Tory councils in south gain funding
Councils in the constituencies of some Conservative ministers have gained funding, a new analysis shows – while Bradford suffers.
Six members of David Cameron’s frontbench team are in seats where councils are enjoying boosts to their ‘spending power’ over this Parliament.
They include big-hitters Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary (Epsom and Ewell), Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Waverley) and Education Secretary Michael Gove (Surrey Heath).
All three have seats in the Tory heartland of Surrey. In the case of Epsom and Ewell council, spending power will rise by three per cent, over five years.
In stark contrast, Bradford is struggling with swingeing cuts – the latest announced only last month – that have put services under fresh threat.
Its loss of spending power – combined funds from council tax, retained business rates, the New Homes Bonus and Government grants – is a staggering 21.6 per cent.
There are also huge losses at Calderdale (down 14.5 per cent), Kirklees (13.9 per cent) and Leeds (15.5 per cent), over the five-year period between 2010 and 2015.
The statistics come from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which allocates council funds.
Bradford Council has been forced to consider cuts to children’s centres, youth services and libraries to plug the bulk of its £32m funding hole.
And a council tax rise – rejecting the Government’s offer to part-fund a freeze – would bring in a further £2m.
Councillor David Green, Bradford’s Labour leader, said: “The scale of the cuts means that an impact on frontline services is inevitable.”
Ministers insist they have delivered a “fair settlement to every part of the country – north and south, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire”.
However, they are seeking to replace what they call the “begging bowl” system, with rewards for councils that build new homes and attract new firms.
But the New Homes Bonus favours larger homes built in the south, often the same areas that find it easier to attract extra business investment.
Overall, the DCLG figures show the ten most deprived local authorities in England will lose ten times as much ‘spending power’ as the ten richest.
Hilary Benn MP, Labour’s local government spokesman, said: “The Government claims those with the broadest shoulders must bear the biggest burden, but they are hitting the poorest communities hardest.”
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