The OVERALL funding cut for local government 2014/15 is £61 per person according to figures from the Communities Department run by Eric Pickles. The cut for Hull according to Deputy Leader Darren Hale is £228.36 per head meaning our cut is nearly 4 times the national average when we are the 10th most deprived area in the UK.
The Authorities with the least cuts (£1-25 per head) are in Tory areas such as Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex. Those with cuts amounting to more than £200+ are (London excepted) all north of Birmingham, and overwhelmingly Labour. They are also areas with a greater % of public sector workers.
Most English non Labour Authorities are in the bracket of £25-50 cuts hence Pickles can massage the average as being £61.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation states in a report dated November 2013: “In England, local government spending is set to fall by nearly 30 per cent in real terms up to and including 2015. Cuts in spending power and budgeted spend are systematically greater in more deprived local authorities than in more affluent ones
cuts are also generally greater in the North and Midlands than in the south of England.”
South Cambridge, a Tory controlled authority got a RISE of 3% in 2013.
Sir Merrick Cockerell, Chair of the Local Government Association said in response to the way the Government have abolished central government grants for council tax help, “The current funding system is broken and it is pushing many local authorities toward failure.”
Each authority, since 2013 has discretionary powers as to whether they can support council tax reductions for working age claimants. This really impacts on Labour councils due to higher levels of deprivation, long term illness and disability. Pickles made sure those on the state pension are not touched, a clever move towards calculating budgets on an age related basis (benefiting wealthy areas with older people but little deprivation) Sussex being a prime example of an authority relatively unscathed compared to Hull where we have less older people in comparison due to the effects of deprivation.
The Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities said on 27th November 2013 that, “the large disparity in funding is putting some councils at breaking point, and means that any economic recovery may bypass parts of the UK”.
All of the evidence shows that Pickles is unashamedly going down the “divide and rule route”. We must be careful not to fall for it by linking campaigns across the North and including the Labour Groups that are in Opposition, for example in the East Riding of Yorkshire where cuts are falling heavily on poorer residents and children. Whilst Hull is facing literally life and death cuts, we must not let Pickles get away with the more subtle stuff such as excluding working class young people from orchestras and the arts. In comparison these may seem minor losses, but how many kids will be cut off with no opportunity to experience culture and all the benefits of gaining confidence in themselves? It’s basically class war and is in danger of falling under the radar. A position of no cuts must be the default position. We must not be divided in a race to the bottom
£375 billion has been spent on Quantitative Easing, £120 billion is lost via tax evasion and billions more assets such as land and antiques go untaxed. Prince Charles, via the Duchy of Cornwall owns land valued at £500 million in the West End, this is untaxed.
The richest 10% UK residents own £4,000bn, with an average per household of £4m. The bottom half of our society own just 9%. The wealthiest hold the bulk of their money in property or pensions, and some in financial assets and objects such antiques and paintings.
A one-off tax of just 20% on the wealth of this group would pay off the national debt and dramatically reduce the deficit, since interest payments on the debt are a large part of government spending.
Any way forward must involve a united front of councils. Remember Thatcher, with a majority of 144 was forced to rebate £35 million to Liverpool in 1984. They used the money to build award winning social housing creating nearly 5,000 jobs.
The battle will take place in the Guildhall but this will not mean anything unless the community are actively engaged. The public don’t understand about “whipped votes”. That’s political jargon for political people divorced from their ward constituents. All they see and hear are Labour councillors voting for Tory cuts.
The template is there, but does the political will exist?