0610 GMT January 27, 2020
The Center for Cities think tank study shows that the poorest areas have borne the brunt of council spending cuts, theguardian.com reported.
Local authority spending has fallen nationally by half since 2010, with areas such as Liverpool, Blackburn and Barnsley facing average cuts twice that of their counterparts in the more affluent south, according to the think tank.
The report suggested there is a ‘city and country’ divide, with urban council areas having shouldered cuts to services such as street cleaning, road repairs and libraries, which, are, on average, twice as deep as those borne by leafier authorities.
The Center for Cities said the Treasury review of public spending due this autumn must find extra funding for all councils, and for urban areas in particular, if authorities are to remain sustainable in the face of soaring demand for social care.
Andrew Carter, the chief executive of Center for Cities, said, “Councils have managed as best they can but the continued singling out of local government for cuts cannot continue. Fairer funding must mean more funding for cities.”
Councils’ traditional role as ‘custodians of places’ is under threat as a result of the cuts, according to the think tank. Some councils are at risk of becoming “little more than social care providers”, as they reduce non-care services to the bare legal minimum to pay for rocketing demand for services for vulnerable adults and children.
Nearly half of cities spend at least half of their overall budget on social care alone, up from 38 percent of budget in 2010. The biggest increases in social care spending have been in deprived cities outside the southeast of England. In Barnsley, 62 percent of the entire council budget went on social care in 2017-18.
The report comes as controversy grows over ministerial proposals to redraw the funding formula for local government, which critics say would transfer scarce funding from the poorest inner-city neighborhoods to affluent Tory-controlled county areas.
The report stated: “Despite the high-profile coverage of the struggles of county councils in recent years (most notably Northamptonshire), it is actually cities, and especially those in the north of England, that have been hit hardest by austerity.”
The five cities and towns that have suffered the biggest falls in spending over the past eight years are from the north of England: Barnsley (-40 percent), Liverpool (-32 percent), Doncaster (-31 percent), Wakefield (-30 percent) and Blackburn (-27 percent). The British average is -14.3 percent.
Liverpool residents have borne the largest spending cuts per head on local services of £816 over the period. The city has lost £441 million in annual spending. Barnsley has had £145 million cut from its annual budget, which is equivalent to £688 a year per head.
London has seen the biggest absolute cuts, with £3.9 billion stripped from spending on services by its 32 boroughs since 2009-10. The Center for Cities says the capital has shouldered 30 percent of all local government cuts in Britain, despite having just 16 percent of the population.