Mayors warn that deprived cities set to lose more funding to shires

14 February 2019

• London, Liverpool and Sheffield sound alarm that already stretched public services are set to be hit again in Government’s Spending Review
Deprived cities look set to lose out to wealthy English shires in a new round of potentially devastating Government funding cuts that would further decimate public services, three of England’s elected mayors warn today.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, together with Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City Region) and Dan Jarvis (Sheffield City Region) represent urban areas that are among the most deprived in the UK.

They argue that the Government’s forthcoming Spending Review risks causing serious damage to the communities they serve by taking money away from cities and giving it to the wealthiest shires instead.

English cities have already endured the worst of Government austerity. London has shouldered almost one third of local government austerity cuts imposed by Ministers over the last decade, according to Centre for Cities’ 2019 report Cities Outlook. Per head, people living in Liverpool have borne the brunt of the most cuts – £816 per person over the past decade.

This is despite the fact that cities experience higher levels of poverty and deprivation that rural areas. In the UK, a quarter of people in cities are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.* In London alone, 2.3 million people, and over a third of all children, live in poverty after housing costs are taken into account.**

The three mayors believe that successive governments - of all political hues - have failed to narrow the gap between rich and poor areas, and to revive towns depressed for decades.

They argue that cities and rural areas should not be in competition. Both rely on each other for economic activity and the Government should focus on making the entire country more prosperous rather than investing in rural areas at the expense of cities.

The Government’s Spending Review, set for later this year, will determine exactly how much funding local government will receive over the coming years. The Mayors are working on the assumption that their cities will be hit once again with significant cuts. This would further jeopardise policing budgets, together with investment in transport, housing, infrastructure, and skills.

The mayors are also bracing themselves for the Government’s Fair Funding Settlement – due to be completed by April 2020 – as it is expected that funding will not be distributed based on level of need.

Steve Rotheram and Dan Jarvis are in London today with Government ministers and council leaders from across the UK to attend a key summit hosted by Sadiq on the health crisis sparked by the country’s toxic air.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Towns and cities are the engine room of economic growth, but the Government’s plans for the spending review risk causing serious damage to the poorest urban communities – by taking yet more money away from local authority, policing and fire service budgets.

“As Mayors, we may represent different parts of the country, but we all share one aim – to ensure our cities and regions can continue to thrive.

“After a decade of austerity, public services are now stretched to the limit of what is possible without putting vulnerable residents at risk. Ahead of the Spending Review, I hope that Ministers recognise that more cuts on the scale of those we have seen over the last decade are simply not sustainable and will do real damage to local communities.”

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Our local authorities in the Liverpool City Region have suffered disproportionately from government cuts during nearly a decade of austerity. In spite of herculean efforts from everyone in the sector, our depleted public services have been stretched almost to breaking point.

“My role is to help create the conditions for our economy to prosper, for the benefit of everyone in our city region. Proper funding, not just for essential services but also for infrastructure, would help us to do that, but continued austerity is acting like a handbrake on our economies, while simultaneously putting the most vulnerable in our communities at risk. That is why I am joining my fellow mayors in calling on the Government to give city regions across the country the funding we need.”

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “The Comprehensive Spending Review is a crucial moment for city regions and our communities. It is an opportunity for Government to give regions across the country the funding needed to tackle some of the big issues we face, such as on transport, skills and building infrastructure fit to face the challenges of the 21st century.

“Local authorities in South Yorkshire have seen substantial cuts to the tune of £536m over the last eight years, which has placed an unacceptable burden on councils and the vital services they provide to communities.

“I will continue to work closely with other Metro Mayors to ensure that our city regions do not lose out to wealthier areas, and instead benefit from the inclusive economic growth our residents and our communities rightly deserve.”