Nottingham City Council’s deputy leader is calling on the Government to play fair when it allocates the second instalment of a £300m special fund to councils to soften the blow of budget cuts.
Nottingham City Council, and other cities in the North and Midlands which serve some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country, did not receive any of the first £150m of ‘transitional’ funds the Government handed out to councils in February to help them cope better with ongoing cuts to their budgets – yet councils serving more affluent areas did get a share. Nottingham, for example, has seen cuts of £71 per household but received none of the ‘transitional’ grant.
Yet southern counties such as Surrey which has seen cuts of only £16 per household received almost £12m and Buckinghamshire which has seen cuts of even less – £8 per household – received £4.6m.
City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Graham Chapman believes the city should have received around £2m extra over two years if the fund had been allocated fairly.
He has submitted FOI requests to the Department for Communities and Local Government to explain the funding criteria, but the Government has refused to provide details, saying ‘the public interest served by disclosure of the information we hold in this case would be minimal beyond a small number of interested parties.’ The Information Commissioner’s Office is now considering a complaint from Councillor Chapman about DCLG’s response and the National Audit Office is also looking into the issue.
Now Councillor Chapman wants to the Government to re-think its approach as it prepares to allocate a further £150m of ‘transitional’ grant.
He said: “Since 2010, cities like Nottingham with higher levels of deprivation have consistently been hit harder than more affluent areas by Government cuts. The allocation of the transitional fund adds insult to injury and is proof, if it were needed, that the Government is acting like Robin Hood in reverse and robbing the poor to give to the rich.
“If this fund really is intended to cushion councils from the blows of the Government’s cuts, then surely it makes sense for the next round to come to those councils which have been hit hardest, not to those which already have resources.”