Former 'red wall' areas could miss out on council funding

New analysis has claimed that the possible reallocation of council funding could redirect hundreds of millions of pounds from so-called left-behind communities in the north of England to the leafy southern shires.

The analysis, commissioned by the Local Government Association, says that such a move would leave many newly Conservative voting ‘red wall’ areas facing fresh cuts to local services. Under a review of the local authority funding formula, £320 million a year could be shifted out of councils in England’s most deprived areas while Tory-controlled shire councils mainly in the south-east gain £300 million.

The claim opposes Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s numerous pledges to ‘level-up’ resources between the North and South, with the analysis suggesting that potential high-profile losers on funding shortcomings include many constituencies that elected new Conservative MPs in December, including Mark Jenkinson’s Workington constituency, which would suffer from Cumbria County Council’s £5 million loss, and Sedgefield, represented by Paul Howell, which would feel the impact of £10 million being taken out of Durham County Council.

Other notable losers include Stoke-on-Trent, Redcar, West Bromwich, Bishop Auckland, Grimsby and Leigh, with an estimated 37 of the 50 new Tory MPs representing areas that are set to lose millions a year.

In contrast, Hampshire County Council would be the biggest winner, gaining £35 million a year, followed by Surrey County Council, which is home to 11 Conservative MPs, and could gain £25 million. The Tory-run Northamptonshire County Council, which declared effective bankruptcy in 2018, is set to get a £7.5 million boost to its budget, despite ministers refusing a bail-out, as it could be seen to reward the authority’s financial mismanagement.

Andrew Gwynne, Shadow Communities Secretary, said: “In the new parliament, 37 Tory MPs represent communities at the sharp end of these cuts. They know these changes are wrong, so it’s time for them to decide: what comes first, their communities or their careers?”