DCSIMG

Hartlepool to be among worst hit towns in UK by spending cuts – at a cost of £680 per household

Dent Street

Dent Street

HARTLEPOOL will have lost the highest amount of Government funding per household in the region by 2016, according to new data.

Figures from the Association of North East Councils (NEAC) show that from David Cameron and the coalition government coming into power in 2010, to the financial year 2015-16, the town will have lost £28.9m.

This equates to a 24.5 per cent drop and works out at £680 of “spending power” per household.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has hit out at what he claims is an “wrong and unfair” “strategic Government strategy” to strip Hartlepool of cash in a north-south divide.

It comes as the leafy Berkshire town of Wokingham, whose council is Conservative-led, has seen a £1.3m increase in funding over the five-year period, with a rise in household spending power of £20.

Also in the south, Windsor and Maidenhead lost just £1.1m, or one per cent of its budget, amounting to £18 per household.

Mr Wright was one of a number of North-East MPs who met with an NEAC delegation at Westminster on Tuesday after the association pleaded with Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis for a rethink over plans to take another £109m from the region.

The Labour MP said: “I think there’s a lack of understanding and lack of sympathy with Hartlepool.

“It’s a small local authority with long-standing social and economic difficulties and a local council tax base so the idea that Hartlepool Borough Council is able to raise all of its spending locally is just simply impractical.

“I repeatedly tell the Government that what they are doing is both wrong and unfair, but actually there is a political strategy here which is to provide more money to the wealthy and affluent south at the expense of the impoverished north.”

He claims that the south benefitting from higher cash allocations is a “strategic” move, adding: “I think it’s naive to suggest the idea that the Government doesn’t know what it’s doing.

“It knows precisely what it is doing, it’s a nakedly political strategy designed to reduce Government spend in Labour areas, regardless of the need of the population and provide extra money to those areas of the south that perhaps support the Conservatives, showing a real lack of empathy and real disregard for some quite vulnerable people and societies.”

Mr Wright said the region’s MPs have vowed to continue to make the case on behalf of North-East communities to ensure a fairer deal.

“Whether the Government will listen is another matter, but we continue to press the case,” he said.

Durham County Council has lost out on 91.2m over the period, or £385 per household.

The total lost by the region is £556m, while the south-east lost £393.2m.

But a Department for Local Government and Communities spokesman said Hartlepool’s wider-area spending power, which includes the fire service, is £2,522 per dwelling in 2014-15, £274 more than the England average of £2,248 per dwelling.

He added: “The coalition government has delivered a fair settlement to every part of the country – north and south, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire.

“Local government finance now puts councils in the driving seat, rewarding them with more income for supporting local enterprise, building more homes and backing local jobs.

“In the coming year councils should stay focused on cutting waste, making sensible savings, modernising front-line services and keeping council tax down.”

 

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