Police and council budget cuts ‘reversing a decade of progress’

In a debate in the House of Commons this week, local MP John Healey has challenged government ministers over cuts to funding for council and police services which have hit less well-off areas like South Yorkshire the hardest.

Figures from the independent National Audit Office have revealed that between 2010/11 and 2015/16 local councils will receive a 37% reduction in central government funding.

Despite the government’s pledge that ‘the broadest shoulders will bear the greatest burden’, the respected House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has said recently that these cuts will be concentrated on areas with the greatest need, with Committee chair Margaret Hodge saying: “Councils with the greatest spending needs – the most deprived authorities – have been receiving the largest reductions.”

In the House of Commons chamber Mr Healey challenged police minister Mike Penning MP over the deep cuts that police services have faced.

He said: “Since 2010 South Yorkshire police have faced cuts in excess of £30 million… we are seeing the hollowing out of neighbourhood policing and the closure of local police stations such as Rawmarsh and Wath, and this is setting back a generation of progress over the previous decade.”

He also confronted local government minister, Brandon Lewis MP to stop hiding the full extent of government cuts on councils like Barnsley by creating a brand new measure of ‘spending power’:

“Does the Minister accept that spending power disguises the real pressure on many councils, and that the money allocated does matter? Barnsley, which covers part of my constituency, is facing eye-watering cuts: a 26.9% cut in the revenue support grant next year, it tells me, and an overall cut in its settlement of 13.6%. It is absolutely nothing like the smaller figures he is giving the House.”

Rotherham Council’s funding is down £173.94 per head from 2010/11 to 2015/16 and Barnsley is down £184.48 per head. However, Surrey Heath is up £3 per head over the same period.