The new Tory local government funding package is taking more money from poor areas and giving it to the richer ones – Robin Hood in reverse.
And ministers are trying to convince the public into believing it’s fair. Even the Sheriff of Nottingham didn’t try that.
In the north east it will result in additional cuts and higher bills after eight years of austerity.
Take the Tory administration at Northumberland County Council, which will implement a charge of eight per cent on claimants who apply for council tax support (CTS). That is farcical because the people who apply for CTS are the ones most in need and will most likely cost the council more money in trying to collect the extra liability.
The over-75s risk losing free TV licences, while women born in the 1950s are being penalised because of the unfair roll-out of increases in the state pension age.
But it is the local government settlement that will have the biggest impact on cash-strapped local authorities and the people they try to serve.
We have already seen unprecedented cuts to our councils. Between 2010 and 2020, local government in England will have lost more than 60p in every £1 that the government provides to communities for services.
The change in the revenue support grant has left local services facing a huge funding gap of £3.2bn – a £1.5bn gap in adult social care funding, £1.1bn in children’s services, £113m in tackling homelessness, and £531m in public health. By 2025, the gap will rise to £7.8bn.
Nine out of ten areas seeing the biggest cuts to spending power per household are Labour-controlled. Seven out of ten areas seeing the smallest cuts are Conservative-controlled. I can’t see how that is fair.
If we want to tackle health inequalities and narrow the gap between the richest and the poorest, we have to ensure that local authorities have the resources they need.