William Eichler 03 May 2022

England’s poorest areas hit hardest by austerity

England’s poorest areas hit hardest by austerity image
Image: Mark Ponsford / Shutterstock.com.

Residents living in England’s most deprived areas were hit particularly hard by the largest local authority spending cuts during a decade of austerity, think tank says.

A new report from the Institute for Government (IfG) reveals how grant cuts and the rising demand for social care shrunk the scope of local government in England.

The most grant-dependent and deprived areas such as Birmingham, Lambeth, and Salford were more likely to make deeper cuts to neighbourhood services, reducing the quality and accessibility of services, the IfG found.

The miles covered by bus routes, for example, fell 14% between 2009/10 and 2019/20, with deprived areas more likely to see reductions in routes. A third of England’s libraries also closed in the same period, with more closures in the most deprived areas.

However, not all services declined. The IfG found that the overall percentage of roads in need of maintenance did not get worse between 2009/10 and 2019/20, and 37 local authorities saw an improvement in road quality during the decade.

The think tank also found that variation in the performance of local services was due to local politics and council initiatives. However, it discovered that the Government is unable to understand why local authority performances vary because it lacks the key data.

The Government lacks information for two-thirds of neighbourhood services spending, which accounted for £10bn of local authority spending in 2019/20.

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