The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published an interim report – Coping with cuts? Local government and poorer communities - that seeks to track the impact of tighter public spending and the state of the economy on poorer people and places.
Local government spending (excluding police, schools, housing benefit) is set to fall by nearly 24% in real terms between 2008 and 2015 in Scotland.
They have found that cuts in spending power and budgeted spend are systematically greater in more deprived local authorities than in more affluent ones. This is mainly because these councils are more grant dependent. In Scotland it means that the West of Scotland councils suffer more than those from the East.
The most deprived Scottish councils reduced expenditure between 2010 and 2013 by £90 per head more than the most affluent councils did. Interestingly, the figures for England are similar, so there is little indication that the Scottish Government is targeting resources any better than the ConDems.
John Low, Policy and Research Manager at JRF, said: “This is an important and very timely report which provides graphic illustrations of how spending cuts are playing out on the ground. As we approach the fourth austerity settlement for local government in December, it is clear the cuts are biting deep into the poorest and most deprived communities. Unless we can muster the national will to correct or mitigate the unacceptable divergence of resources between more and less affluent authorities, we are slowly but inexorably creating a more divided society.”