“Gulf in council spending may divide society”
“Cuts may force councils to stop funding arts and leisure services by 2015″ and “Britain’s poorest and most deprived areas hit hardest as society becomes unacceptably more divided”. These were just some of the week’s headlines as newspapers and radio stations around the UK reported on our recent publication. The study reveals the scale and pattern of cuts in spending on local government in England and Scotland since 2010, demonstrating that cuts in spending power and budgeted spend are systematically greater in more deprived local authorities than in more affluent ones – a difference of around £100 per head in both England and Scotland. The study also reflects on how these cuts to public spending will affect poor areas and vulnerable groups.
Professor Glen Bramley was interviewed on six local BBC radio stations, including Radio Scotland (listen here, at 4:44 minutes into the programme), while Glasgow University researcher Professor Annette Hastings was interviewed for LBC Radio and Radio Merseyside and Dr. Nick Bailey was interviewed for BBC 1’s Look East programme.
National and regional papers each reported on different aspects of the report. The Guardian, in an online article written by Patrick Butler, initially focuses more on the cuts to arts and leisure services, libraries in particular. The Guardian also hosted an online discussion – involving local authority staff and a range of experts and practitioners – focusing on how councils in poorer communities can best cope with the cuts. The Birmingham Mail specifically looked at the implications of the report for the North and Midlands, while the Scotsman considered the implications for the future of local government in Scotland. Most newspapers wrote more generally about the unequal distribution of cuts and how this may be contributing to a more divided society. This was the focus of most of the coverage, including reports in The Herald The Independent and the Mirror. Other websites which covered the report included Real Radio Scotland and STV news.
“Coping with the cuts? Local government and poorer communities” is a report by Annette Hastings, Nick Bailey, Kirsten Besemer, Glen Bramley, Maria Gannon and David Watkins. It is part of a large Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded research project called Serving Deprived Communities in a Recession.