London councils will unite next week to challenge the government over its local government finance settlement for 2008-11.
They claim the government’s recent settlement has forced them to “face tough choices” over whether to increase council tax or cut services to meet government targets.
Up to 20 London local authorities will next Wednesday (30 January) sign a joint letter to prime minister Gordon Brown to demand a “fairer distribution of government cash”.
The settlement provides local authorities with about three-quarters of funding for local services. But Westminster Council claims that its provisional grant allocation for 2008-9 has left it £3.5m short.
Redistributing money northwards
Colin Barrow, deputy leader of Westminster Council and cabinet member for finance, said: “The latest settlement penalises the capital when it has the highest levels of unemployment, child poverty and housing overcrowding in the UK.”
Barrow said it was clear that the government was redistributing money from London to the Midlands and the North.
According to figures from London Councils, a lobbying organisation, Derbyshire Council saw the formula allocation for children’s services rise by 17% despite noting a fall in the number of children living in the area. However, Westminster would suffer a 40% drop in funding per child against a 16% increase in the number of children living in the borough.