Thursday 13 April 2017

Inequality exacerbated

On of the functions of the central state is to re-direct funds from the wealthier parts of the country to the poorer parts.  This is done in the UK by central government grants to local government.

The intricacies of how these grants are calculated  are beyond the comprehension of most of us, but it seems odd that, when these grants are reduced, as they have been over the past seven years  as part of the government's misguided "austerity" policies, the biggest reductions are to the poorest areas and not to the richest.

An article written a couple of years ago  but still relevant,states:

The variations in individual councils are striking. Some 23 councils will see spending power reductions of over 5%, with Labour-run London borough of Hackney the biggest loser at 6.46%. But 17 home counties authorities will see an increase of over 2% in their spending power: all are Tory-run, with Reigate and Banstead seeing the biggest increase, at 2.92%.

How do they get away with it?  I suppose it could be argued that the areas with the biggest problems get the largest grants, so consequently are able to bear the greater cuts, but it all sounds a bit fishy.

More recently the overwhelmingly Conservative Surrey County Council felt it hadn't enough income  properly to fund its Social Care Services, so it proposed to have a referendum  to permit an "above the norm" rise in council tax.  For some reason the government found this was embarrassing, so a deal was done, the government found extra funds, and there was no need for the referendum.  The government denied that this was a "sweetheart deal" but rather a "gentleman's agreement."  Seemingly there aren't enough "gentlemen" in such as Labour dominated Newcastle and the North East  to facilitate a similar accommodations there.

Then we look at education.  London's pupils are alleged to have forged ahead in their achievements over the past few years. Government expenditure per pupil per year in the City of London was £8 595 when this article was written, compared with £4 648 in my own area of Kirklees.  The lowest was in Cambridgeshire, at a mere £3 950. Of course, London property prices are higher so  the business rate will be too (for local authority schools, though private schools which are charities get an 80% discount), and the teachers have to be paid more. (Disclosure: I benefited from the London Allowance in the early stages of my career - I think it was just undert £1 a week)

And a final thought.  Figures recently revealed show that, on average, Labour-led councils have taken in 11.6 asylum seekers per 10 000 population: the equivalent figure for Conservative-led councils is 0.7.  There are apparently just four asylum seekers living in Mrs May's Maidstone constituency.

The prevailing philosophy of the government appears to be "unto him that that shall be given," and of Tory councils " what we have we hold."


  1. Business rates should not be paid by schools or hospitals. Equally the 80% discount should be removed to 'level the playing field'Yes it smells totally of give to our supporters and let the rest struggle.

    1. Yes, I can't understand how they get away with it, nor why the Blair/Brown governments, with whopping majorities for 13 years, did nothing much about it.