WIRRAL council has been hit harder than anywhere else in the country by cuts to local government spending.
According to figures from a group which represents urban councils outside London, Wirral’s decrease in “spending power” is greater than any other comparable authority.
Council leader Phil Davies said: “The larger northern metropolitan authorities are being clobbered compared to Conservative-controlled southern councils.”
Wirral’s ruling cabinet highlighted recent figures which showed Wirral had lost £151 per head in funding compared to just £2 in north Dorset when it voted to support the Mayor of Liverpool’s ‘Come Together’ campaign calling on the government to re-think local council financing.
The latest calculation, based on figures produced by the department of communities and local government (DCLG), comes as senior officers from Wirral council prepare for another meeting at Whitehall to find a way to balance its budget.
Party leaders met with a DCLG minister earlier this month seeking “flexibilities” in how it will cope with budget cuts and large one-off costs.
The council wants to use money it has “in the bank” from selling off assets – around £9m – to also help fund anticipated 700 redundancies as it cuts back the workforce to balance its budget but is currently prevented from doing so – and wants the government to step in and help.
But according to calculations by Special Interest Group of Metropolitan Authorities outside London (SIGOMA) Wirral council faces an even tougher time. It indicates the cash-strapped authority’s spending power has reduced by 2.62% – more than anywhere else.
The council’s “Revenue Spending Power” includes the main grant from government, plus other funding such as council taxes, the council tax freeze grant, NHS support plus cash the council earns in incomes, such as from leisure centres.
Other local authorities also saw drops in their “spending power”, but not quite as severe. In this region Warrington came next with a drop of 2.51%, followed by Knowsley at 1.86% and Liverpool at 1.84%. The average fall for SIGOMA councils was 1.78%, while greater London saw a drop of 1.54%, and Leicester saw an increase of 0.11%.
Council sources say Wirral has been hit so hard because it had relied on specific grants focusing on its areas of high deprivation, which have been cut back.
Cllr Davies said it remains unclear why Wirral has been hit particularly hard as many other SIGOMA councils also have high areas of deprivation.