Friday, 17 December 2010

Government Cuts Grants to Urban Local Authorities

The Coalition government has announced the level of grant funding to be given to local authorities in England for the next two financial years. You can see the full council by council list here courtesy of The Guardian newspaper.

The figures for ‘revenue spending power’ are the amount each council will receive minus a local authority’s other income, mainly council rents. The ‘formula grant’ figure is how much (compared to this year) councils will get in direct grant from the government. Why the figures have been presented this way, is an interesting question, and the cynics amongst you may well conclude this has done to muddy the water somewhat, where drastic cuts in grant are being imposed.

With Council Tax being virtually frozen over this period, cuts in local services are inevitable. What is striking from even a quick look through the figures, is that local authorities in urban (generally Labour voting) areas will be cut by much more than rural (Tory and Lib Dem voting areas). Indeed somewhere like Dorset for example, will get a small increase (0.25%) and others such as Wokingham, Richmond upon Thames and Buckinghamshire, all get a less than 1% reduction. This is quite clearly a political move, and does fit in with the ConDem government strategy of encouraging comfortable areas, where they expect to win votes, and poor areas which they do not give a damn about, as they know they will never vote for the ConDem government anyway.

And so, to our own fair borough of Haringey in north London. Haringey is a fairly typical inner city area, certainly for London, but also reminiscent of many urban boroughs in England. Haringey will receive 11.30% less grant in 2011/2012 than it did this year, which is calculated as reducing the council’s ‘revenue spending power’ by 7.9% over the same period. This is in line with most urban areas, and will mean that the council here and in similar areas will need to cut front line services, and with it jobs. Talk of efficiency savings and the like are nonsense, to make cuts this deep something has to be sacrificed, and it seems likely that adult care and childcare sectors will bear the main brunt, and those workers doing very important work, will lose their jobs.

Haringey council is the largest employer in the borough, which already has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the country, so a cut of maybe 1 in 8 in its workforce, will have a devastating affect on employment in the area and of course the services that are being provided by the council. Even before the scale of the cuts were announced, Haringey council leader Claire Kober is quoted in the Hornsey Journal as saying, “It is not possible to remove upwards of £50million from our budget without significant job losses.”

Moreover, the fact the bulk of the cuts are to be ‘front loaded’, that is, will come in the next financial year, means a sharp reduction in the services Haringey currently provides, and is guaranteed pretty much immediately. This will prolong the economic recession, because the private sector is in no shape to make up the difference in employment in the short term, if at all.

The short term prospects for jobs and local services is therefore pretty grim, unless the people can force a change in government policy, or better still, throw them out altogether and elect a more compassionate and less reckless alternative government.

Rise up people, and overturn their plan (thanks to Captain Ska for the inspirational line).


Anonymous said...

...and the last Labour government took money from rural areas, and gave it to Labour voting urban areas.

Mike Shaughnessy said...

Why do you want to be anonymous?

I'm not defending Labour, although the Labour areas are usually extremely deprived, and this tends not to be the case with Tory rural areas.

It just goes to show what an unscrupulous lot the ConDems are. The sooner we get rid of this government, the better.

Anonymous said...

Why do you want to be anonymous?
'cos I work for the council.

Labour areas have larger concentrations of deprivation; rural deprivation is dispersed but equally real. Being poor in a city is better than being poor in a rural village – especially one that’s been gentrified and thus looses all its services. I used to support the Greens in the 90s because they were the only party to oppose blow-ins buying up village homes – but now it’s Greenies doing the ethnic cleansing of the rural areas!

Mike Shaughnessy said...

Yes, I know rural areas have pockets of deprivation, but you can't tell me that Buckinghamshire is remotely like Haringey in this regard.

As to housing in rural areas, the Green party would like to see more social housing in rural and urban areas. I know what you mean about some 'green' types, weekending in the country and playing at being 'green'.