A BARNSLEY MP has revealed the huge financial strain placed on the council by the Conservative Party - which now surpasses the £1bn barrier - and has urged ministers to start plugging the hole to protect frontline services.
Stephanie Peacock, the MP for Barnsley East, recently challenged the government on losses to Barnsley Council and revealed this week that cuts made since 2010 now tops £1.2bn.
The cuts, she told the Chronicle, continue to impact the services they are able to provide for the local community.
Though Barnsley has received so-called ‘Levelling Up’ funding provided by the government, the £10m secured is a drop in the ocean, according to Ms Peacock.
She said: “Barnsley Council has suffered due to successive Conservative governments making huge cuts, meaning that they have lost £1.2bn since 2010.
“The government boast about their Levelling Up scheme, but people across the country are not seeing these benefits on the ground, as reports show that over 90 per cent of the cash hasn’t even been allocated yet.
“We certainly haven’t seen adequate investment in Barnsley, with the Department for Levelling Up expecting us to be grateful for just £10m.
“In reality, it is little more than a slogan - of course we welcome any funding, but it’s nowhere near enough to make up for a lost decade of cuts.
“After 13 years of Conservative government, people do not feel any better off.
“If anything, as wages have fallen and inflation rises, they feel worse.
“This doesn’t even begin to make up for the slashing cuts the government has made to Barnsley Council since 2010.
“I will continue to push the government to invest in Barnsley fairly.”
It comes just weeks after the council’s medium-term financial strategy revealed current circumstances - including central government cuts, recession, anticipated low levels of economic growth in the future, debt levels, inflation and increasing interest rates - are having a ‘front-loaded’ impact on its expenditure and income levels.
According to a cabinet report, it is anticipated the council will need to borrow up to £240.3m by the end of 2024/25.
“The council’s borrowing strategy is to limit its exposure to interest rate risk whilst maintaining an appropriate level of internal borrowing in order to minimise its financing costs,” it added.
“No new long-term borrowing was undertaken during the third quarter, however based on current capital plans it is anticipated that the council will need to borrow up to £240.3m by the end of 2024/25.
“The council’s investment strategy remains focused on security (loss avoidance) and liquidity, ensuring cash is available when needed to meet the council’s spending commitments.
“To reflect this strategy, officers continue to place investments in secure money market funds and instant access accounts.
“The council has also placed a significant level of short-term deposits with reputable banks and other local authorities to diversify the investment portfolio and help spread counter-party risk.”