Deprived northern cities hit hardest by government spending cuts, report reveals

Posted On: 
28th January 2019

Labour has accused ministers of making "politically-motivated cuts" as a new report found that cities in the North of England have been hardest-hit by austerity over the past decade.

Barnsley topped the list of cities most-affected by local government spending cuts.

A new study by the Centre for Cities think tank finds that Barnsley and Liverpool have borne the brunt of sharp reductions to local government funding imposed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Barnsley has seen a 40% drop in day-to-day council spending - a higher proportion than any other part of Britain.

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Meanwhile Liverpool has seen the sharpest reduction in council spending per person, which has fallen by £816 over the past decade.

The top five worst-affected cities are all located in the North of England, the think tank said, with Donaster seeing a 31% reduction, Wakefield enduring a 30% cut and Blackburn's local spending plunging by 27%.

Cities in the North of England saw their spending fall by 20% on average  compared to 9% for cities in the South West, East of England and South East, the report found.

Luton has seen a 21% rise in local government spending since 2008, the report found - while Oxford has seen a 15% leap.

"Worryingly the cities least equipped to absorb the loss of central government grant have been hardest hit," the report warns.

"Cities in the North of England tend to have weaker economies and are more reliant on central government funding. Therefore, they are less able to raise money locally, for example through council tax increases."

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said the "continued singling-out of local government for cuts cannot continue".

He added: "If, as the Prime Minister has said, austerity is coming to an end then the Spending Review must address the financial challenges facing cities.

"But this does not just mean more money. Giving local authorities more power to decide how they raise and spend funds, providing more flexible multi-year budgets and reforming the way social care is paid for also need to be urgently introduced."

Seizing on the report, Labour's Andrew Gwynne accused ministers of "targeting deprived areas".

The Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary said: "The Tories have shamefully stripped back funding for local authorities, leaving many councils on the brink of collapse and the vital public services that people rely on at breaking point.

"Councils have now lost 60p out of every £1 that the last Labour government invested in our communities.

"The government must stop targeting deprived areas with their politically motivated cuts and provide sustainable funding for councils to protect our local services."

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said ministers would be providing local authorities with £91.5bn in funding over the next two years.

He added: "This coming year local government is getting £1bn extra in funding – a real terms increase – to strengthen services and support local communities."