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LONDON BIAS IN SSA FORMULA HELPED PERSUADE HOWARTH TO SWITCH

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London bias in local government funding was one of the issues which pushed former minister Alan Howarth out of the ...
London bias in local government funding was one of the issues which pushed former minister Alan Howarth out of the Conservative party, reports the Yorkshire Post (p1).

Mr Howarth, who deserted the Tories and joined Labour over the weekend, said that many other MPs were also outraged by the workings of the funding formula, particularly the area cost adjustment factor.

The MP for Stratford-upon-Avon tells the Yorkshire Post:

'In Warwickshire we have many many difficulties over funding for local government and I can understand how in Yorkshire you might feel, similarly that the system is tilted away from you in every possible way.

'Warwickshire has been penalised for being a very well run and cost conscious authority - under both Labour and the Conservatives I should say. The result has been a lethal interaction between an unfair cap on the authority's spending and an inadequate standard spending assessment.

He added: 'I don't want to go on about London in particular but we are very conscious of how area cost adjustment favours the magic circle of south-eastern authorities.

'If you go two miles from my home, you are across the border in Oxfordshire and if we had the same funding formula as Oxfordshire we would have had an extra £15m to spend this year.

'It's absolute nonsense and it was a considerable factor in my decision to part company with the government.'

Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Post says that its 'revelations' about the scale of support for London were widely welcomed.

Cllr John Trickett, leader of Leeds City Council, said:

'As the Yorkshire Post clearly points out, the public in the north of England have been losing out as successive Tory environment ministers have consistently chosen to ignore the facts in favour of flagship boroughs.'

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