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Corbyn quizzes May over fair funding plans

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used prime minister’s questions this lunchtime to quiz Theresa May on council funding, including proposals for the new fair funding formula.

The Opposition leader said the council funding cuts of the past decade had fallen disproportionately on the most deprived councils and had led to increases in child poverty, rough sleeping and homelessness.

He said: “If this wasn’t bad enough, it’s about get rather worse. Tory proposals on the new funding formula for councils will make poorer areas even poorer; they’re removing the word deprivation from the funding criteria.”

As LGC has reported previously, ministers are proposing that funding for the majority of lower tier and around a third of upper tier services will be based on population and will not account for deprivation

In the Commons today Mr Corbyn quoted the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers’ description of the decision as “perverse”.

He said: “Can the prime minister explain why she wants to give less funding to the most deprived parts of our country?”

However, Ms May denied that was the case.

She said: “No, that’s not what we’re doing. We are ensuring we are having a fair funding formula across local authorities but we’re also ensuring that we’re making more money available.”

Earlier in the debate Ms May said councils had “more money available to them in real terms”.

She said the Conservative government had been forced to ask councils to “take some difficult decisions” because “we were left the biggest deficit in our peacetime history” by the previous Labour government.

But Mr Corbyn described austerity as a “political choice” that “has hit the poorest and worst off the worst in everyone of our communities across the county”.

He continued: “Since 2010, 50 pence in every pound has been stripped from local authorities by her government. That is the reality of what life is like for those trying to deliver services.

“The evidence is clear: the Tories have abandoned communities across the country. They have left towns and cities to fend for themselves after nine years of vindictive and damaging austerity.”

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