Wakefield among UK cities worst hit by austerity

Wakefield has lost 484 per head in government funding since 2010.
Wakefield has lost 484 per head in government funding since 2010.

Only three UK towns and cities have been hit harder by austerity than Wakefield, according to a report by an independent think tank.

The Centre for Cities says that the district has suffered the fourth biggest drop in government funding of all local authorities in the last decade.

Wakefield has received 30 per cent less cash than it did in 2010, equating to a £484 drop in spending per person.

Only Barnsley, Liverpool and Doncaster have had more severe cuts in that time, according to the report.

The chief executive of Centre for Cities, Andrew Carter, said the scale of austerity in Yorkshire has placed public services under "huge pressure" and called for an end to authorities being milked for savings.

The Spending Review in March is being seen as an opportunity for the government to fulfil Theresa May's promise that austerity will soon be over.

Mr Carter said: "Councils have managed as best they can but the continued singling-out of local government for cuts cannot continue.

"There is a very real risk that many of our largest councils will in the near future become little more than social care providers. Fairer funding must mean more funding for cities.

"If, as the Prime Minister has said, austerity is coming to an end then the Spending Review must address the financial challenges facing Yorkshire's cities.

"But this does not just mean more money. Giving local authorities more power to decide how they raise and spend funds, providing more flexible multi-year budgets and reforming the way social care is paid for also need to be urgently introduced."

The closure of Sure Start children's centres and leisure hubs, as well as the deteriorating state of Wakefield's roads are all symptoms of the austerity imposed on the district.

The think tank says there's evidence that many councils are having to ditch some services completely to cover their basic legal requirements .

Of 62 city authorities in the north, only four spent the majority of their budget on social care in 2009.

A decade on, more than half of them have had to allocate most of the money to social care.

Wakefield council leader Peter Box said the think tank's findings came as "no surprise".

He said: "What the Centre for Cities data does show is the unfairness of these cuts, with funding for Wakefield residents being cut - with £484 less per man, woman and child in our district - whilst other places, primarily in the south east, have been protected.

"Despite the reductions we have risen to the challenges. We’ve worked really hard to minimise where we can the impact of the spending reductions - by taking a robust approach to how we manage our finances and making our services more efficient.

"We will continue to strive to deliver services to meet local residents’ needs, to care for places in our district and support our local economy."

Top five hardest hit UK authorities

Barnsley - 40 per cent fall in government spending - £688 per person

Liverpool - 32 per cent fall - £816 per person

Doncaster - 31 per cent fall - £469 per person

Wakefield - 30 per cent fall - £484 per person

Blackburn - 25 per cent fall - £542 per person