Tories hand millions to wealthiest councils – but there’s only cuts for Sunderland.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, has accused the Tory Government of a stitch-up after the Chancellor handed hundreds of millions of pounds to the wealthiest Tory councils to ease the pain of spending cuts – but offered nothing to Sunderland City Council.
Sunderland City Council has suffered some of the highest spending cuts since 2010, but has received nothing at all in today’s announcement. Meanwhile, leafy Surrey – one of England’s wealthiest shires – gets a hand-out of £24m despite suffering far fewer cuts in recent years.
Tory MPs became alarmed when they realised their areas might soon see cuts similar to those imposed on the rest of the country. They threatened to vote down the Government’s planned cuts until Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced a £300 million ‘transitional grant’. The Government have refused to say where the extra money comes from.
Labour analysis shows that £255 million of the grant – 85% – goes to Tory councils. Areas where Labour runs the council receive just £17 million, despite suffering the harshest cuts since 2010 and having higher levels of deprivation.
Following this announcement, Sharon Hodgson said:
“Yet again Sunderland is bearing the worst of this Tory Government’s spending cuts to local government whilst leafy Tory shires, such as Surrey, receive additional funding all so the Government could calm a possible revolt from their own backbenchers.
“Instead of kow-towing to their Tory shire heartlands, the Government should be doing all it can to support local councils in some of the most deprived areas of the country to ensure services are not cut to the bare bone and councils are able to provide vital local and community services that we all rely upon.”
Steve Reed MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Local Government, said:
“The Government is covering up where this money has come from and won’t explain why almost all of it is being handed to Tory councils just weeks before council elections across the country.
“Councils that have already been cut to the bone since 2010 are getting nothing but more cuts. The Tories have picked millions of pounds from taxpayer’s pockets to buy off their own MPs when faced with a rebellion in the House of Commons.
“This is a blatant misuse of public money in a shameless attempt to buy votes and buy off Tory MPs.”
Item reported on Sun-FM website
Item reported in the Guardian Online