Revealed: The scale of York’s spending cuts

West Offices, home to City of York Council
28 Nov 2016 @ 6.46 pm
| News, Politics

New figures show the scale of the cuts to spending on public services by City of York Council since the modern period of austerity began.

Respected thinktank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has worked out exactly how much each council has changed its expenditure in recent years.

For City of York Council the level of spending on services has dropped by more than 24% since 2009-10.

Other authorities have seen far worse cutbacks. The biggest drop, of 46%, is by Westminster Council in London; and one in three councils have faced cuts of 30% or more.

York council spending
2009-10 £134.7 million
2016-17 £101.7 million
Source: the Institute for Fiscal Studies

The IFS says the stats are based on 2016-2017 prices, and take into account changes to councils’ responsibilities over the time period.

‘Serious consequences’

York Central MP Rachael Maskell
York Central MP Rachael Maskell
Labour MP for York Central Rachael Maskell said the cutbacks had caused hardship to many in the city.

She told YorkMix:

A 24% cut to local authority budgets mean that we are receiving far fewer services than we were back in 2009/10.

Labour warned that austerity would have serious consequences, and we are witnessing this now. The sharp rise in street homelessness, the lack of youth services, the number of families struggling with social care and the sharp rise in anti-social behaviour are the price we pay for the Council’s cuts.

Every public service from prisons, schools and hospitals are paying the price, and this combined with the scale of local authority cuts creates a harsh picture both locally and nationally.

Last Wednesday, we learnt that all these cuts had been in vein, as the country’s debt has spiralled to £1.7 trillion and the deficit is still growing.

Cllr Janet Looker
Cllr Janet Looker

Cllr Janet Looker is the leader of the Labour Group on City of York Council. She told YorkMix:

This is a very useful piece of research that illustrates the real impact of national Conservative and Liberal Democrat cuts to local government, including the unfairness of protecting affluent areas like Surrey and Hampshire whilst heavily penalising what are generally Labour run councils in different parts of the country, ones that are more reliant on government grant to fund public services.

Here in our own area we see this unfairness reflected in cuts to York leaving it able to spend 24% less on services against 11% less in North Yorkshire and just 4% less in the East Riding.

Local Tories and Lib Dems have failed to stand up for York in challenging these cuts, unlike their colleagues who have done so in other parts of the country, which is probably the most disappointing aspect of them now running the council in Coalition together.

Cllr Chris Steward
Cllr Chris Steward

But Cllr Chris Steward, former Tory leader of City of York Council and now its finance portfolio holder took a different view.

He told us:

Council budgets have reduced over recent times as the Conservative government has dealt with the record debts its inherited.

Rightly councils have been forced to do things more efficiently and in York in 2015 residents gave the Conservatives more votes than any other party which no doubt reflected they wanted a party that would deliver an efficient council but focused on frontline services.

We are determined to keep council tax low, recognising that all of the money council spends is money that is hard earned by residents. With less money available generally we will look at different methods to deliver the same or better outcomes.