Doubts cast ‘fairer’ grant allocations will be better for councils

25 Sep 18

Councillors from across England expressed concern the government will fail to redistribute funds equally after a major shake-up of grant allocation, at the Labour conference.

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council - answering a question from PF on the government’s current recalculating of councils’ grant, at a fringe session in Liverpool today - said: “We re very pessimistic about the fair funding review.

“In the post-Brexit landscape, we are talking about the repatriation of significant funding from Europe, and we are concerned that the money will go back into Whitehall and will be redistributed around the country in the most unfair funding formula we have seen for years.”

Blake said that funding that currently comes from the EU is specifically aimed at deprived areas, and she feared the government’s fair funding review will not take the same approach.

Roger Lawrence, leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, also said he lacked optimism for the results of the review and implied urban councils could be the losers.

He answered PF: “The government has got two choices, they can take funding off the urban unitary authorities to give to counties or they can take it off districts.

“Given that most districts tend to be Conservative-run, I have a pretty clear idea what is going to happen.”

In August, the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank claimed that London councils were bound to lose out in the fair funding review.

Peter John, leader of Southwark council, told PF: “Diverting resources away from London and other metropolitan areas would be an absolutely disastrous step.

“We have great need and great demands on our resources and it would be absolutely wrong for Northamptonshire to be used as a reason why the shires and counties should benefit at the expense of anywhere else.”

The Labour party fringe was organised by the advocacy group Core Cities, the UK cities network Key Cities and umbrella group London Councils.

The event was entitled Generating wealth but facing poverty: what do cities need from the spending review. 

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