I was interested to see a paper of budget issues at came to the County Councils Network Executive today, made reference to a Telegraph article from 1st June “Gordon Brown ‘Diverts Rural Aid to Bribe Voters'” – (click here to read the Telegraph article).
It seems that Government funding at the beginning of Labour’s term gave £1256 per head in London, but just £727 in shire counties – a gap of £529.Almost a decade later, London Boroughs receive on average £2743 per head, some £1330 more than the £1413 received by the shires.
Of course, such disparity is not new. I well recall lobbying Government some years ago on their Statutory Spending Assessment, the calculation used to apportion Government funding by category (children, older people etc) from council to council. For older people, Kent received around £315 per head whilst Islington received £930 odd. The calculation was reworked a year or two later into Formula Spending Share, and whereas Kent then received £500, by now Islington were up around £1500 – forcing the gap even wider.
The law allowed London Boroughs to place their vulnerable people into Kent homes, where lower property and wage costs made for lower fees than in London. This in turn allowed London Boroughs to effectively “pocket the difference” whilst Kent were increasingly unable to find bed space in its own county.
Regardless of the political point scoring from articles such as that in the Telegraph, the facts would seem to tell their own story.