York is in “very difficult financial position” amid position as least funded local authority in England
As reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service in August, the Institute for Fiscal Studies released data showing that £3,642 is spent per person in York on all public services.
This is 15.5 per cent below the national average of £4,310 and the lowest out of all 150 local authorities in England.
York is the second lowest funded for schools per person, third lowest for the local NHS, eighth lowest for local government and 24th lowest for public health.
The City of York Council wasn’t initially able to comment on the news, but its executive member for finance coun Katie Lomas has since made a statement.
“York being amongst the worst-funded areas nationally for its local council, for its local NHS and for its schools, tells its own story,” coun Lomas said.
“We want to see the Fair Funding Review – originally proposed for 2016 – finally carried out so there’s some hope of our council seeing its fair share of funding in the future.
“Were York to receive the average, it would have another £16.5m per year added to an existing annual budget of around £141m, highlighting just how vital this extra funding is.
“Some of the lowest levels of funding across the country for the NHS and schools locally compounds the problem and leads to added pressures on services the council can ill-afford.
“We will always do well with what we have, but significant cuts to services are inevitable while York remains in this very difficult financial position.”
Liberal Democrats in York have recently been criticising the new administration on its reallocation of funding for different wards.
The ward committee highways fund has been suspended by the council and moved into the central highways repairs fund, meaning there is £250,000 less for wards to spend.
Although Labour said this means less bureaucracy and time spent by councillors, coun Andrew Hollyer, a Liberal Democrat, described it as a “devastating cut to our communities” and said, “we are calling for a return to the Liberal Democrat plans agreed in February 2023.”
He added: “The cost of living crisis is seeing York’s residents struggling with sky-high energy, food and housing costs like never before.
“However, not only have York Labour failed to follow through on their pledge to deliver further help to York’s residents, they have made the situation even worse by slashing funding for local communities to tackle the issues being faced in their own areas.”
However, coun Claire Douglas has defended her start as council leader.
She said: “Since coming to power the new Labour administration has made changes to ward funding to ensure more support is directed to those communities most impacted by the cost of living crisis.
“We have also taken swift action to allocate £1.3m over two years on work to make council homes more energy efficient, helping to combat fuel poverty.
“And starting next Monday, up to three children travelling by bus with a fare-paying adult will travel for free, while those up to age 16 travelling unaccompanied will pay no more than £1 per journey.
“This is just the start as we give much greater focus to affordability for residents during the current cost-of-living crisis”.