Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Government 'hitting areas in need'

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne has said the Government is targeting the most deprived areas of England with its cuts programme

Labour has accused the Government of targeting the most deprived areas of England for the deepest cuts in benefits, tax credits and council services, while protecting affluent parts of the country.

Analysis released by the party suggests that the north of England and inner-city parts of London are taking the brunt of cuts, with an average of £566 in cuts to welfare and local government for every person in the North-East, £511 in the capital and £508 in the North-West, compared to just £292 in the South-East outside London and £324 in the East of England.

The worst-hit area, Knowsley in Merseyside, sees a total loss of £850 per head - £515 per head in welfare cuts and £336 in local government cuts - according to Labour's figures. By contrast, the least-hit area, Mole Valley - which covers the towns of Dorking and Leatherhead and surrounding villages in Surrey - loses £182 per head, made up of £164 in welfare reductions and £18 in local government cuts.

The list of 10 local authority areas hardest hit by the cuts includes seven out of the eight most disadvantaged parts of the country, according to the Government's own deprivation index.

Knowsley, which ranks fifth in the index, is followed by Westminster (87th in the index, losing £824 per head), then Hackney in east London (second in the deprivation index, £821), Liverpool (first, £817), Blackpool (sixth, £792), Hartlepool (24th, £724), Manchester (fourth, £715), Newham in east London (third, £710) and Middlesbrough (eighth, £696).

Mole Valley is 310th out of 326 in the deprivation index, and the other areas on which the cuts are having least impact are equally well-off. Second least-affected is Waverley in Surrey (321st on the index, losing £187 a head), Wokingham in Berkshire (325th, £189), Hart in Hampshire (326th, £194) and Elmbridge in Surrey (320th, £196).

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: "The Tories are zeroing in on areas in need and hitting them hard - twice.

"Communities facing the biggest hit to local government are also losing most from cuts to their tax credits and benefits, yet instead of helping working families the Tories are giving millionaires a tax cut. That tells you everything you need to know about this Government's priorities."

According to Labour's figures, based on independent research conducted by Sheffield Hallam University and Newcastle City Council, the overall loss per head from welfare and local government cuts is £566 in the North-East, £511 in London, £508 in the North-West, £421 in Yorkshire and the Humber, £388 in the West Midlands, £364 in the East Midlands, £334 in the South-West, £324 in the East of England and £292 in the South-East.

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