Nottingham City Council would be almost £60m better off a year if it had been given the same treatment as Surrey County Council under the Government’s austerity-driven council cuts.
The revelation comes as a Cambridge University study confirms that cities in the most deprived parts of England have suffered the most under the Government’s local government cuts, while some affluent areas have emerged relatively unscathed.
The study notes that cities still dealing with the legacy of industrial decline or sustained levels of poverty, including Nottingham, were also among the local areas with higher proportions of their budgets reliant on the grant from Government – because there is greater local need but a lower ability to bring in significant funding through council tax and business rates.
Over the last seven years, Nottingham City Council’s main Government grant has dropped from £126m to £35m. This equates to a cut of £601 per household, which compares to Surrey County Council seeing cuts of just £57 per household. Over this period, if the Government had made overall spending reductions equivalent to Surrey for Nottingham, it would have received £57m more a year – that’s £414 per Nottingham household.
Beyond this, Surrey was the main beneficiary of an extra fund known as transition grant which the Government gave to some councils over the last two years to soften the blow of the cuts. Again these were overwhelmingly more affluent councils in the south, with Surrey receiving £24m. Nottingham received none, but would have gained £2.4m if the fund had been distributed fairly. Surrey is set to gain from a similar fund for the forthcoming year while Nottingham and similar areas again miss out.
City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Graham Chapman said: “The Cambridge University study published this week tells us what we have known since austerity measures were introduced a decade ago – the Government has targeted deprived areas for the harshest cuts and shielded affluent areas from them.
“As the report authors have said, this could affect the life chances of entire generations depending on where they are born in the country. It’s a national scandal and one that here in Nottingham we’re doing our utmost to protect local residents from. Unfortunately though, there are more difficult budget decisions to take before austerity comes to an end as the prime minister has promised.”