Smoke and mirrors on council funding must stop says senior MP

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall
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MINISTERS SHOULD stop picking and choosing convenient figures when talking about the amount of money the Government gives to councils. according to a senior backbencher.

Clive Betts, chairman of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, spoke out after the Treasury confirmed the cut in councils’ spending power will fall by 3.3 per cent between in the next financial year.

Previously the Government had claimed the fall was only 2.3 per cent but Ministers have failed to explain how that figure was calculated.

The revised figure still includes money from the Government’s Better Care Fund - aimed at helping local authorities and the NHS integrate care services - which some council leaders complain is not new money.

Stripped of Better Care Fund cash, the fall in council spending power rises to 7.1 per cent in real terms.

Mr Betts, the MP for Sheffield South East, said: “Over recent years, the Government has produced an array of different figures on local government finance.

“Ministers have to stop quoting whichever figure best suits their argument on any given occasion.

“Without an agreed single measure of local government spending power there can be no public transparency or open debate on council funding.”

Yorkshire councils have repeatedly complained about the way cuts to their funding have been presented.

But the Government insists its preferred ‘spending power’ measure - which takes into account a variety of income streams as well as Whitehall funding” is a fair reflection of local government finance.