Labour MP Andrew Gwynne has accused the Government of a stitch-up after the Chancellor handed hundreds of millions of pounds to the wealthiest Tory councils to ease the pain of spending cuts – but offered little to Tameside and Stockport.
Both Tameside and Stockport Councils have suffered some of the highest spending cuts since 2010, but Tameside has received nothing at all in today’s announcement, whilst Stockport has received only £2m. Meanwhile, leafy Surrey – one of England’s wealthiest shires – today gets a hand-out of £24m despite suffering far fewer cuts in recent years.
Tory MPs became alarmed when they realised their areas might soon see cuts similar to those imposed on the rest of the country. They threatened to vote down the Government’s planned cuts until Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced a £300 million ‘transitional grant’. The Government have refused to say where the extra money comes from.
Labour analysis shows that £255 million of the grant – 85% – goes to Tory councils. Areas where Labour runs the council receive just £17 million, despite suffering the harshest cuts since 2010 and having higher levels of deprivation.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“I am absolutely furious about this, and I told the Minister as much in my speech to the House of Commons.
“Forking out money to the wealthiest areas whilst neglecting those with the lowest council tax bases is an absolute disgrace.”
Steve Reed MP, Shadow Minister for Local Government, said:
“The Government is covering up where this money has come from and won’t explain why almost all of it is being handed to Tory councils just weeks before council elections across the country.
“Councils that have already been cut to the bone since 2010 are getting nothing but more cuts. The Tories have picked millions of pounds from taxpayer’s pockets to buy off their own MPs when faced with a rebellion in the House of Commons.
“This is a blatant misuse of public money in a shameless attempt to buy votes and buy off Tory MPs.”