Figures highlighted as part of last week’s debate in Parliament have shown that the Government will have slashed Tower Hamlets Council’s spending power by 24.9% between 2010/11 and 2015/16.
The cut of a quarter is one of the highest in the country despite Tower Hamlets being the UK’s seventh most deprived borough. By contrast the Prime Minister’s own local authority of West Oxfordshire – one of the least deprived areas in the country – was given an increase in spending power of 3.1% this year.
Labour have attacked the Government’s allocation of funding as desperately unfair describing the process as an unforgivable assault our country’s poorest communities.
In their recent report, ‘Coping with the cuts? Local government and poorer communities’, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, recognised the Government’s unfairness stating that “cuts in spending power and budgeted spend are systematically greater in more deprived local authorities than in more affluent ones.”
Labour’s criticism was also rounded on current mayor Lutfur Rahman who’s 2014 Budget reveals a £80m unfunded budget gap in the coming years. Labour say the £80m gap will put strain on services and that Rahman’s refusal to address it earlier shows he lacks the strength and leadership skills necessary to protect Council services over the long term.
Labour’s Finance spokesperson, Cllr Carlo Gibbs, said:
“There are clearly big decisions to be made about how to deal with the Government’s savage cuts. While Labour councils have shown this can be done through innovation and investing for the future, Lutfur Rahman’s weak leadership means Tower Hamlets is missing this opportunity.”
Labour’s Candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:
"There is no escaping the severity of the Government’s cuts, about which Lutfur Rahman is clearly in denial.
“One of my highest priorities will be to open the books and set to work to see just how we can protect the vital work of the Council and support hard-pressed local people. I have plenty of ideas about how we could do this but it doesn’t look as if Lutfur Rahman has a clue."