Poorer areas that backed Tories face fresh funding cuts as cash switched to wealthy southern regions

New Conservative MPs representing seats losing out challenged to stand up to Boris Johnson – before cash is diverted to Surrey and Hampshire

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Saturday 25 January 2020 10:41
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Boris Johnson to Labour voters: 'We will never take your support for granted'

Poorer areas that delivered Boris Johnson’s election triumph are facing fresh cuts to local services – as funds are switched to wealthy Southern shires instead.

Hundreds of millions of pounds will be diverted because of a new formula which significantly downgrades the importance of deprivation in assessing need, an analysis shows.

The shake-up will hurt high-profile Tory election gains including Workington, Stoke-on-Trent, Grimsby, West Bromwich, Sedgefield, Bishop Auckland and Redcar, it shows.

Now the new Conservative MPs representing those areas are being challenged to stand up to the prime minister before the cuts kick in next year.

“They know these changes are wrong, so it’s time for them to decide what comes first – their communities or their careers?” said Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s local government spokesman.

The ‘fair funding review’ began under Theresa May but now threatens to become a major embarrassment to her successor, who won the election on a pledge to “level up” the country.

Instead, the areas of the North and Midlands which were hit hardest by a decade of austerity that stripped billions from town hall funding are threatened with more pain.

The analysis, carried out by the Labour group at the Local Government Association, has found that 37 Tory MPs represent seats “at the sharp end of these cuts”.

In County Durham, where the Conservatives snatched four seats including Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield – Tony Blair’s old seat – the county council will lose almost £10 million a year.

Cumbria, where the Workington seat switched from red to blue, will be another loser (£7.55 million), as will Stoke (£8 million), Sandwell, which includes West Bromwich (£8.6 million), and Lincolnshire, including Grimsby (£3.3 million).

Tory-run Hampshire will be the biggest cash winner (gaining £35 million), followed by Surrey (£26m), which covers the constituencies of 11 Tory MPs including cabinet members Dominic Raab and Michael Gove.

Other Conservative areas set to enjoy a funding boost include Northamptonshire (£7.5 million) – which was put in special measures after years of financial mismanagement – East Sussex (£6 million) and affluent Wokingham (£6 million, a staggering 30 per cent hike).

The biggest loser will be Birmingham (down by more than £48 million), followed by other big Labour city strongholds including Liverpool (£16.2 million) and Manchester (£10.4 million).

Mr Gwynne urged new Tory MPs not to duck the challenge, adding: “The fair funding review has been exposed as just another Conservative plan to take hundreds of millions from deprived communities and funnel it towards leafy Tory shires.

“In the new parliament, 37 Tory MPs represent communities at the sharp end of these cuts. This is a major test – their constituents will not forgive and not forget if they fail.”

An LGA spokesperson said the analysis did not represent its “preference”, but acknowledged: “It is an attempt to provide some information to councils that might help gauge the likely impact of the fair funding review on the relative distribution of adult social care funding.”

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