The government has been accused of diverting much-needed coronavirus relief funds away from poorer parts of England to richer councils with lower infection rates.
According to Labour analysis seen by the Independent councils such as Sunderland, Knowsley, Sheffield, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Oldham have all been short changed despite being among the 10 areas with the highest rates of coronavirus infections.
In stark contrast, the 10 richest areas have enjoyed a huge boosts in funding, many of which have Conservative-controlled councils.
Deprivation in assessment
Earlier this year it was revealed that significant sums of money could be getting diverted away from certain councils because of a new formula which significantly downgrades the importance of deprivation in assessing need.
The ‘fair funding review’ would have seen tens of millions of pounds stripped from certain councils and doled out elsewhere, and despite being momentarily shelved, it seems grants to ‘fight the pandemic’ have incurred similar weighting.
The biggest losses in percentage terms were suffered by Knowsley (38.8 per cent), Blackpool (37.4 per cent), South Tyneside (32.8 per cent) and Liverpool (32 per cent), according to the analysis.
It comes after a study by the Health Foundation found that the risk of dying from coronavirus is more than twice as great in the most deprived areas of England as in the least.
“Pulled the rug from under them”
Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool city region, told the Inde its authorities believed ministers had “pulled the rug from under them”, after promising they would receive “whatever it takes”.
“Now it’s ‘take whatever you are given’ and it’s noticeable that it’s Labour areas that have missed out in the second tranche,” he protested.
“It is disgraceful if funding is being allocated in that partisan way, after what ministers said about putting away party-political squabbles in a time of national crisis.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We’re providing councils with an unprecedented £3.2 billion in the fairest way possible and giving them the resources to tackle the immediate pressures they have told us they’re facing.
“The two tranches of funding were allocated in different ways because they address different needs, but should be considered together as the true picture of this additional support.”