Wigan to miss out on £300m funding pot

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

A £300m funding pot to help councils ease the pain of spending cuts will completely bypass Wigan in what the town’s MP has called a government “stitch-up”.

Chancellor George Osborne has made the cash available to help local authorities as they transfer to a new funding scheme. But Labour leaders, including Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, have reacted with fury that many northern authorities, who have endured the sharp end of recent cuts, will receive nothing.

It shows just how little this government thinks of people in Wigan and makes a complete mockery of the chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse and the Prime Minister’s claim that we’re all in this together

Lisa Nandy

Meanwhile, several of the nation’s most wealthy areas will receive more than their fair share, the Labour Party has said.

Ms Nandy told the Evening Post: “This is a complete stitch-up by the Tories to reduce opposition to cuts in their local areas.

“It shows just how little this government thinks of people in Wigan and makes a complete mockery of the chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse and the Prime Minister’s claim that we’re all in this together.”

Labour analysis shows that 83 per cent of the money will go to Tory-run councils, with Surrey, Hampshire and Hertfordshire the biggest winners.

Oxfordshire County Council, which covers the Prime Minister’s Witney constituency, will receive an extra £9m over the next two years.

The package of transitional support is being created to soften the impact of reforms that will do away with revenue support grants in favour of a greater reliance on local business rates.

Ms Nandy added: “Wigan Council and other local authorities in the north have had the biggest cuts to their budgets but won’t get a penny of this money, while the wealthiest councils like Surrey and Oxfordshire will get millions.”

Across Greater Manchester the only authorities to receive any of the funding are Trafford (Conservative led) 0.9m, Bury (Labour) £0.1m and Stockport (no overall control) £2m.

The Labour analysis added the country’s least deprived areas, Hart, Wokingham, Chiltern, Waverley, Elmbridge, would receive a total of £5.3m.

The transitional funding was announced after concerns were raised that rural areas would lose out under a system more geared towards business rates.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “This long-term funding settlement for councils is fair and ensures that councils facing the highest demand for services continue to receive more funding and have higher spending power than less deprived authorities.

“The transitional funding has gone to those councils facing the biggest fall in central government grant.

“The settlement for the first time allows councils to plan with certainty, with almost £200bn to spend on local services and a £3.5 billion social care funding package over the lifetime of this Parliament.”

Wigan has suffered the third highest spending cuts in the country, with £110 million a year removed from its budget since 2010 with a further £60m of savings to be found by 2019.

Steve Reed MP, shadow minister for local government, said: “The Government is covering up where this money has come from and won’t explain why almost all of it is being handed to Tory councils just weeks before council elections across the country.

“Councils that have already been cut to the bone since 2010 are getting nothing but more cuts. The Tories have picked millions of pounds from taxpayer’s pockets to buy off their own MPs when faced with a rebellion in the House of Commons.   “This is a blatant misuse of public money in a shameless attempt to buy votes and buy off Tory MPs.”