Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar, has slammed the government's decision to hand hundreds of millions of pounds to the wealthiest Tory councils to ease the pain of spending cuts whilst not given a single extra penny to local authorities on Teesside.
Teesside councils have suffered the loss of over £200 million in funding from central government since 2010, but received nothing at all in yesterday's announcements. Meanwhile, leafy Surrey - one of England's wealthiest shires - gets a hand-out of £24m despite suffering far fewer cuts in recent years.
Tory MPs became alarmed when they realised their areas might soon see cuts similar to those imposed on the rest of the country. They threatened to vote down the Government's planned cuts until Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced a £300 million 'transitional grant'. The Government have refused to say where the extra money comes from.
Labour analysis shows that £255 million of the grant - 85% - goes to Tory councils. Areas where Labour runs the council receive just £17 million, despite suffering the harshest cuts since 2010 and having higher levels of deprivation.
"Over the last five years we have suffered some of the harshest spending cuts in the country on Teesside, with more to come over the next few years. At the same time, our councils are having to deal with the rising cost of social care from an aging population. The situation is at breaking point and local public services that people rely on are under threat.
The government's intention to allow business rates to be retained locally to compensate will, in practise, leave areas like Teesside at a disadvantage compared to wealthier regions with more business rate income.
These cuts will affect people in deprived areas, our older people reliant on support services to stay in their homes, our neighbours caring for those with learning difficulties, our youth clubs trying to keep kids off the streets, the safeguarding of our children from abuse and neglect, our libraries, play areas, our vital bus services, our roads, our empty shops and our desperate high streets.
It is an affront to Teesside that wealthy councils in the South which have not had to face the same financial pain as we have are now being given extra cash at a politically convenient time ahead of elections."
Steve Reed MP, Shadow Minister for Local Government, said:
"The Government is covering up where this money has come from and won't explain why almost all of it is being handed to Tory councils just weeks before council elections across the country.
"Councils that have already been cut to the bone since 2010 are getting nothing but more cuts. The Tories have picked millions of pounds from taxpayer's pockets to buy off their own MPs when faced with a rebellion in the House of Commons.
"This is a blatant misuse of public money in a shameless attempt to buy votes and buy off Tory MPs."