British cities bear the brunt of austerity, think tank reveals

street scene at nightThe Centre for Cities think tank has called for an end to local government austerity as it reveals that Whitehall cuts have hit cities twice as hard as the rest of Britain.

image: Carla Pianese

LocalGov writes:

A new report from Centre for Cities has found that cities have borne nearly three-quarters (74%) of all real-terms local government funding cuts in the last decade despite being home to just 54% of the population. The think tank calculated that this is equivalent to a reduction of £386 per city dweller since 2009/10, compared to £172 per person living elsewhere. The Cities Outlook 2019 report – the Centre for Cities’ annual health check on UK city economies – also revealed that the budgets of northern cities have faced the biggest cuts.

Cities in the North of England on average saw their spending reduced by 20% compared to 9% for those cities in the South West, East of England and South East, excluding London. The top five cities most affected by austerity are Barnsley, Liverpool, Doncaster, Wakefield, and Blackburn. The least affected are Luton, Oxford, Aberdeen, Bournemouth, and Dundee. The think tank also warned that social care, which faces a £3.6bn funding gap by 2025, has added to the burden on cities’ finances…

… In another response to the Cities Outlook 2019 report, Dr Jack Brown, senior researcher at the think tank Centre for London, called for more devolution, arguing that Brexit has stalled the debate about devolving power to local areas. ‘The UK remains highly centralised, with power and resources concentrated in Westminster and Whitehall. This means that distinct localities are not able to shape policy to suit their own particular needs, while creating a sense that regions are competing for one ‘pot’ of funding,’ he said….

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