English councils have been hit twice as hard by spending cuts compared to their Scottish and Welsh counterparts, according to a study published today.
The University of Cambridge found that councils in England had suffered an average service spending fall of almost 24% since 2010 - compared to 12% in Wales and 11.5% in Scotland.
Researchers suggested devolved powers have enabled the Scottish and Welsh governments to mitigate the harshest cuts.
Councils most reliant on Whitehall grants, with lower property values and fewer other funding sources, have been hardest hit.
Dr Mia Gray, who conducted the research with Dr Anna Barford, said: ‘The idea that austerity has hit all areas equally is nonsense.'
All 46 councils that reduced spending by 30% or more are located in England, with the deepest cuts in the north, including Salford City Council, and South Tyneside, Wigan, Oldham and Gateshead MBCs.
Southern England has experienced ‘relatively minor’ service cuts, according to the research.
Dr Gray added: ‘The councils in greatest need have the weakest local economies.
'Many areas with populations that are ageing or struggling to find employment have very little in the way of a public safety net.
‘The Government needs to decide whether it is content for more local authorities to essentially go bust, in the way we have already seen in Northamptonshire this year.’
A separate survey also released today has found almost two-thirds of the public want more spending - even if it means tax hikes.