THE leader of Leeds City Council has called for a radical change to the way local authorities are funded after new figures showed English councils are getting a raw deal compared to their Scottish counterparts.
English councils are receiving some £681 per head from Whitehall for locally controlled services while the Scottish Government is giving councils north of the border around £1,129 – or 448 per head more.
West Yorkshire councils are preparing to start the process of setting their budgets for next year, which will again see millions of pounds cut from services.
The new analysis suggests Scottish local authorities have experienced funding reductions of just 6.5 per cent since 2010, this is compared to close to 20 per cent in England.
The group of councils known as the Leeds City Region have agreed a ‘city deal’ with Ministers, increasing local control of funding previously spent by central government departments.
But pressure is growing for a more significant shift which would see English councils receive their money from a single ‘England Office’.
Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “I think these figures make an overwhelming case that the Department for Communities and Local Government should go and we should have one single department to deal with in the same way as Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
“At the moment, one government department doesn’t know what the other is doing and we don’t really get to pull all the arguments together. We had to speak to 10 different government departments just to agree the city deal.
“If it is true that we are supposed to be working closer with the health service, with the police and other agencies then rather than having different departments working against each other we should have a single England Office which speaks with a single voice and with which we can have a single conversation.
“They should be saying ‘here’s your budget, here’s what we expect in terms of outcomes’ and then leave us to decide how to achieve them.”
Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already have a significant say over everything from health services to public transport, yet England’s communities are still battling for the same freedoms.”