The case for equality

fair-deal_logo-_200x200.jpgThe Fair Deal for Derby campaign has a simple message – we want Derby to be treated equally.

Since 2010, local councils have borne the brunt of cuts to public spending, with the Department for Communities and Local Government losing 51 per cent of its budget: more than any other Whitehall department.

Councils in urban areas have seen the greatest reductions in spending power over the last Parliament.  In Derby we have been forced to make £116 million of cuts, with a further £45 million to deliver by 2019.

Given the regrettable cutbacks proposed in the council's 2016-17 budget, the need to secure a fair deal is more important than ever.

The Chancellor has reminded us for the last six years that 'we're all in this together', but a brief examination of the facts reveals this to be far from the truth. Every Government policy finds new and inventive ways to divert funding away from cities in the Midlands and the North and towards affluent counties in the South-East.

This year's financial settlement is further evidence of how our city has been unfairly treated. As in previous years, the cuts dished out to Derby far exceed the national average – we lost 3.9 per cent of Government funding while the English average was just 2.8 per cent.

Once more, the most deprived authorities are hit hardest. Municipal authorities like Derby lost an average of 3.8 per cent while more affluent counties lose 2.9 per cent and districts just 0.7 per cent.

And, yet again, core spending power is worst affected in areas like ours. Nationally, county council core spending will actually increase by 2.2 per cent over four years, while Derby's will fall by 2.6 per cent.

But that's not all.  Following an outcry from Conservative MPs, appalled at the possibility that cuts may impact  their own back yards, the Secretary of State has handed out £300 million to ease the burden on those authorities least affected by reductions in their revenue grant over the next two years.

Unsurprisingly, Derby did not receive a penny; neither did Nottingham, Leicester or Birmingham, or even the five most deprived areas in the country – Middlesbrough, Knowsley, Hull, Liverpool and Manchester.

Meanwhile, Surrey County Council will receive almost £24 million over two years, while the five most affluent areas in the country – Hart, Wokingham, Chiltern, Waverley and Elmbridge – will collectively pocket £5.3 million. In fact, 83 per cent of the funding will go to Conservative councils.

Whilst Labour have not given up on finding alternative ways of providing these discretionary services, with fairer Government funding we could focus on making positive changes and less on simply maintaining the level of service we already have.

Last year, David Cameron engaged in a high profile spat with the Conservative Leader of Oxfordshire County Council over the proposed closure of day-care centres and libraries, with even the PM's own mum signing a petition opposing the cuts. Moreover, Mr Cameron had the temerity to criticise Cornwall Council for the closure of public toilets at his favourite holiday destination.

It is clear that the Prime Minister is oblivious to the impact of his own policies. His high-handed interventions in local issues only further demonstrate how out of touch he is with the reality of life in modern Britain.

Readers of the Derby Telegraph will be fed up of hearing about Government cuts.  Derby deserves better from Westminster and that is message we will repeat as long we can.

We want your support so please sign our petition to David Cameron asking for a Fair Deal for Derby, a financial settlement that treats us equally with ratepayers in Tory controlled authorities.

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