Council cuts deepen divide between north and south

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COUNCILS IN the north of England are continuing to bear the brunt of government cuts, according to a Sheffield think-tank.

Local authorities in Yorkshire have suffered an average decrease in spending power which equates to £197.24 per person this year, well above the national average of £130.06. In further evidence of the deepening north-south divide, the North West experienced the highest cuts, with an average of £234.76, while the South East had the lowest of £74.08 per head.

Research from the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) used the data to examine its impact on the results of May’s local elections.

One of the key findings was that the local authorities lost by the Conservatives this year tended to have experienced a much higher cut than typical Tory councils. While UKIP enjoyed success in Labour-controlled areas in northern England, the report shows the biggest gains were made in local authorities which had experienced relatively low spending cuts.

Dr Craig Berry, a SPERI research fellow, said: “There is a clear pattern to the cuts experienced by local authorities in England, with councils in the north, in more deprived areas, or controlled by Labour have seen more significant reductions in spending power than those in the south, in more affluent areas, or controlled by the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats.

“The extent to which the 2014 local elections were influenced by pattern is not clear, although it is apparent that the Conservatives’ losses were concentrated in areas that have not been shielded from the cuts to the same extent as Conservative councils in general.

“What is now becoming clearer is that UKIP is succeeding in atypical Labour areas which have experienced relatively low spending cuts.”