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Poorer areas face greater budget cuts than richer ones

Poorer areas face greater budget cuts than richer ones (News (General))

by administrator @, Thursday, November 28, 2013, 14:10

Deprived areas across England and Scotland are seeing larger cuts to budgets - of around £100 per head - compared to affluent ones, according to a new report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

The interim report – Coping with cuts? Local government and poorer communities - is part of JRF’s programme of research to track the impact of tighter public spending and the state of the economy on poorer people and places.

Local government spending (excluding police, schools, housing benefit) is set to fall by nearly 30 per cent in real terms between 2008 and 2015 in England, while Scotland will see a 24 per cent reduction.

The research analyses the scale and pattern of cuts in spending on local government in England and Scotland since 2010.

The report found:

* Cuts in spending power and budgeted spend are systematically greater in more deprived local authorities than in more affluent ones, with a difference of around £100 per head in both England and Scotland.
* Deprived authorities have seen greater reductions in spending power (down by 21.4 per cent) than affluent ones (down by 15.8 per cent). A major reason for this discrepancy is that deprived authorities were more grant dependent than other authorities. The scrapping or consolidation of many specific grants (some of which were particularly geared to tackling deprivation) almost inevitably means that local authorities with the highest levels of deprivation will be disproportionately affected by austerity.
* Cuts are also generally greater in the North and Midlands than in the south of England, and in the west rather than the east of Scotland. The North-South difference is £69 per head.

Local authorities are also seeking to balance their budgets by increasing income and reducing demands on services via measures such as: developing businesses and attracting jobs; refocusing resources on the most vulnerable; and investing in programmes to stop needs intensifying.

John Low, Policy and Research Manager at JRF, said: “This is an important and very timely report which provides graphic illustrations of how spending cuts are playing out on the ground. As we approach the fourth austerity settlement for local government in December, it is clear the cuts are biting deep into the poorest and most deprived communities. Unless we can muster the national will to correct or mitigate the unacceptable divergence of resources between more and less affluent authorities, we are slowly but inexorably creating a more divided society.”

Annette Hastings, co-author of the report, said: “The changes underway within local government should not be underestimated. They will have significant consequences for the broad range of ordinary people who use local public services. If budget cuts continue at the levels anticipated, all but the most vulnerable will be expected to do more for themselves and to supplement state services with commercial alternatives.

“While the most vulnerable have been protected thus far from the worst effects of budget cuts, it is not clear how long this can continue. And we might also be concerned about how the people who just miss out when resources are refocused can cope with service reductions – we could be storing up problems for the future, for them and for society more generally.”

Glen Bramley, report co-author, added: “The extent of these cuts, sustained over a period of years and in the face of rising demands and costs, is unprecedented. Quite complex changes are happening in the financing system as well, which makes it difficult to track the impact clearly and completely. However, we can say that the extent of the cuts is greater in the more deprived authorities, and that some important services relied on more by poorer people are being cut substantially.”

budget cuts

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