Local government funding cuts announced today will disproportionately hit the poorest parts of the country.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles today announced details of £1.166bn in cuts to local government funding for 2010-11, including major cuts to area based grants, which are non-ringfenced and paid directly to local authorities.
However, these cuts will not be evenly spread across local authorities – and the local authorities that face the maximum 2% cuts cater to some of the most deprived communities in Britain.
The details of grant reductions to individual authorities reveal that of the 20 areas facing the largest percentage funding cuts, 13 have a higher percentage unemployed and claiming JSA and lower average earnings than the Great Britain average.
Indeed, using official figures, 18 of the 20 worst-hit local authorities score worse than the national average on at least two of these three barometers – percentage unemployed, percentage claiming JSA, and average weekly earnings.
The ten areas facing the maximum 2% cuts are:
- Great Yarmouth
By contrast, only six of the 20 local authorities facing the smallest funding score cuts worse than the national average on at least two of these three measurements.
Around 130 local authorities face no cuts at all to area based grants – these authorities only received tiny area based grants in the first place.
The area based grants that face the heaviest cuts will be £311m from the Department for Education – much of which funds services such as Connexions and extended schools – and the Communities Department’s Supporting People administration (£30m) and Working Neighbourhood Fund (£49.93m).
The Supporting People programme is aimed at providing housing-related support to vulnerable people to enable them to live more independently. The Working Neighbourhood Fund is targeted at developing community-led approaches to getting unemployed people in deprived areas back into work.
Today’s details don’t tell us how effective these grants and schemes were – certainly few will mourn the cuts to Prevent funding announced today.
Nor do they tell us how local authorities were actually choosing to spend these non-ringfenced grants.
What they do tell us, however, is that whatever impact these cuts do have will hit poor areas hardest.