‘Cuts have hit less well-off areas the most’ - Dearne MP

John Healey, MP
John Healey, MP

MP John Healey has challenged government ministers over cuts to funding for council and police services which he says have hit less well-off areas like the Dearne Valley the hardest.

Figures from the independent National Audit Office have revealed that between 2010/11 and 2015/16 local councils will receive a 37 per cent reduction in central government funding.

Despite the government’s pledge that ‘the broadest shoulders will bear the greatest burden’, Mr Healey pointed out that the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee recently raised concerns these cuts will be concentrated on areas with the greatest need.

Committee chair Margaret Hodge said: “Councils with the greatest spending needs – the most deprived authorities – have been receiving the largest reductions.”

In the House of Commons, Mr Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne, challenged police minister Mike Penning MP over the deep cuts that police services have faced.

He said: “Since 2010 South Yorkshire police have faced cuts in excess of £30 million… we are seeing the hollowing out of neighbourhood policing and the closure of local police stations such as Rawmarsh and Wath.”

He also confronted local government minister, Brandon Lewis MP, and expressed how Rotherham Council’s funding is down £173.94 per head from 2010/11 to 2015/16, while Barnsley is down £184.48 per head. But Surrey Heath is up £3 per head over the same period.

Mr Penning said the Government must be “realistic” about funding for our “fantastic” police forces in the current economic climate.

Mr Lewis has previously denied funding cuts are weighted against poorer areas and said they were “fair to north and south as well as rural and urban” areas.