Study examines impact of local authority budget cuts on election results

SheffieldUniv's picture
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version
  • Cuts to local authority budgets had a more significant impact on councils in the North and councils controlled by Labour
  • Higher levels of deprivation appear to explain these trends
  • Conservative losses at the 2014 local elections were concentrated in councils with higher cuts than typical Conservative councils
  • UKIP gains were in Labour-controlled councils with relatively low budget cuts

Cuts to local authority budgets in England are disproportionately affecting councils in the North and those in the most deprived areas, according to a new report by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI).

MoneyEvidence on spending cuts shows that councils in the North West have experienced an average cut of £234.76 per person, followed by an average cut for councils in Yorkshire of £197.24 per person and an average cut for councils in the North East of £189.16.

The average across England is £130.06 per person. Councils in the South East have experienced the lowest average cut, at £74.08 per person.

The study found the most deprived local authority areas have experienced the most significant cuts. Councils in the top 10 per cent most deprived areas have seen an average cut of £228.23 per person. In contrast, councils in the top 10 per cent of least deprived areas have seen an average cut of only £44.91 per person.

The SPERI report also looked at the political composition of local authorities. Researchers found councils controlled by Labour have been most affected by reductions in local authority spending power, with an average cut of £160.08 per person. In contrast, councils controlled by the Conservative Party have seen an average £68.95 cut, and councils controlled by the Liberal Democrats have seen an average £75.91 cut.

The report also considers how the recent local elections held in England might have been affected by the differential experience of spending cuts. For instance, the councils lost by the Conservative Party in May tend to have experienced a much higher cut than typical Conservative councils.

The councils where UKIP made significant gains have experienced an average cut of £106.45, that is, significantly below the average cut across England. Two-thirds of UKIP’s major successes came in Labour-controlled councils, albeit atypical councils that have experienced significantly lower cuts than the Labour average.

Dr Craig Berry, SPERI Research Fellow and co-author of the report, said: “There is a clear pattern to the cuts experienced by local authorities in England, with councils in the North, in more deprived areas, or controlled by Labour have seen more significant reductions in spending power than those in the South, in more affluent areas, or controlled by the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats.

“Of course, the significant overlaps between these categories should be acknowledged. It is impossible to say the coalition has focused spending cuts on Northern or Labour-controlled councils. Rather, they have failed to protect deprivation-related local spending, meaning that the councils which previously had higher budgets due to higher levels of deprivation have seen the largest cuts.

“The extent to which the 2014 local elections were influenced by pattern is not clear, although it is apparent that the Conservatives’ losses were concentrated in areas that have not been shielded from the cuts to the same extent as Conservative councils in general.

“The concentration of UKIP’s recent success in Labour areas has been well-documented. What is now becoming clearer, however, is that it is succeeding in atypical Labour areas which have experienced relatively low spending cuts.”

The full report can be viewed at http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/publications/policy-briefs

Today’s publication is the sixth in a new series of SPERI British Political Economy Briefs. Through this series SPERI hopes to draw upon the expertise of its academic researchers to influence the debate in the UK on sustainable economic recovery.

Additional information

SPERI

The Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) is an academic institute based at the University of Sheffield. The institute aims to bring together leading international researchers, policy-makers, journalists and opinion formers to develop new ways of thinking about the economic and political challenges posed for the whole world by the current combination of financial crisis, shifting economic power and environmental threat.

The University of Sheffield

With nearly 25,000 of the brightest students from 117 countries coming to learn alongside 1,209 of the world’s best academics, it is clear why the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading universities. Staff and students at Sheffield are committed to helping discover and understand the causes of things - and propose solutions that have the power to transform the world we live in.

A member of the Russell Group, the University of Sheffield has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance.

In 2014 it was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

One of the markers of a leading university is the quality of its alumni and Sheffield boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students. Its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, Siemens, Yorkshire Water and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

News Source : Study examines impact of local authority budget cuts on election results
Copy this html code to your website/blog to embed this press release.