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Fairer funding

Fairer funding

SEEC has gathered extensive evidence to illustrate significant levels of central Government underfunding for South East local authorities over many years.

The current Government has clearly inherited a broken system, so SEEC has developed proposals to help Ministers deliver fairer funding and a better deal for South East taxpayers and the national economy.

Past work has included:

SEEC leaders wrote in July 2017 to MPs and Ministers calling on Government to increase South East infrastructure investment, as new figures show that since 2013/14 South East net financial returns to Treasury have fallen behind London. The letter expressed members’ view that the changing fortunes are down to different levels of public spending, including areas such as transport and enterprise/ employment investment. The new data shows a growing gap in per-capita public spending: London rose from £7,056 to £12,628 between 2000/01 and 2015/16 while the South East rose from £5,274 to £10,334. SEEC called on Government to re-invest a fair share of our net profit in South East transport, skills and hi-tech infrastructure so we can maximise economic growth.

In January 2017 SEEC challenged analysis of IFS figures that concluded South East councils have avoided the brunt of spending cuts. In late 2016 an article appeared in the Local Government Chronicle that highlighted IFS figures on cuts to local authorities’ funding between 2009-10 and 2016-17, which showed higher percentage falls in metropolitan areas than in two-tier areas such as the South East. SEEC Chairman, Cllr Nicolas Heslop responded, arguing that this was not a sound basis for comparison as in 2009-10 South East local authorities had the lowest level of funding per resident in England.

South East Councils – many of which border London and face the same problems – still have among the lowest levels of per-resident funding today. This means they have far less funding per person than London councils to respond to deprivation, congestion, rapidly growing demand for social care and the high cost base for property and salaries.

In May 2016, Government announced its decision to review of the national schools funding formula. SEEC made the case that a new system must be more equitable than the current formula, which sees schools in London receive around 25% more per pupil than those in the South East. Despite many parts of the South East being ‘high cost areas’ with similar costs to London, South East Schools receive the lowest per pupil funding of any region in England. This makes it extremely difficult for schools here to recruit and retain teachers.

There are also significant areas of deprivation in the South East, and many schools with the challenging intake that entails. The Government’s 2015 Index of multiple Deprivation figures show there are 232,525 children in the South East living in income deprivation – the 4th highest total in England and more double the number in the North East.

In August 2015 SEEC responded to the Local Authority Public Health Allocations consultation setting out an analysis of South East underfunding and calling for any cuts to public health funding should be more heavily weighted to those councils significantly above their target allocation.


Read SEEC’s findings and proposals in our ‘Fixing a broken system’ report (June 2012). See also the SEEC press release launching the report.

As part of the work, SEEC commissioned independent research into levels of underfunding in the South East compared to other areas of the country. The resulting reports from consultants Local Government Futures are available below.