Fury at regional budget cuts split in Sheffield

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CUTS to local government are hitting Sheffield residents harder than wealthy south-easterners according to Labour research.

Coun Julie Dore, Sheffield Council leader, has raised her concern about the figures, which show £55 million cuts to her authority’s budget for the next year equate to £123 for each city resident, compared with £4 per person in Richmond upon Thames and £0 in East Dorset.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Lib Dem MP for Sheffield Hallam, has pointed to analysis by the independent House of Commons library which states that, apart from London, northern regions still ‘receive more grant per head than their southern counterparts’.

The larger effect on Sheffield is due to the council’s income previously being boosted by access to a series of additional funds designed to help poorer areas.

These have been slashed at the same time as the basic grant from the Government is also cut, resulting in a larger impact on the council’s finances.

But Mr Clegg said the Government ‘was not going to do anything which simply willy-nilly exacerbates a north-south divide’.

In a letter to him, Coun Dore said: “As council leader, I have firsthand experience of how the actions of the Government, of which you are the Deputy Prime Minister, strongly exacerbating the north-south divide.

“One of the most blatantly-unfair policies you have introduced is the targeting of heavy spending cuts on local authorities in the north of England, while some of the wealthiest councils in the country located in the south are receiving almost no cuts at all.

“It is inevitable this unfair settlement is exacerbating the north south divide and I am asking you, on behalf of the people of Sheffield, to review this immediately.”

Mr Clegg said: “It was Labour’s over-reliance on financial services in the City of London that left Sheffield and the North so vulnerable when the banks collapsed.

“And it was Labour who were in power for 13 years without doing anything to close the gap between the richest and the poorest.

“On your charge we are cutting the budgets of councils in the North more than those in the South, you are simply wrong.

“We are investing directly in South Yorkshire – fixing roads, investing in schools and supporting businesses. Just this week we announced a £58m investment in new tram-trains between Sheffield and Rotherham.”