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- TUC reveals the impact of government cuts on each local councils
- Large-scale investment in local services is urgently needed, says TUC
- Biggest cuts have hit Labour-led authorities the most.

Councils in the South West are spending £370million a year less on key local services than in 2010, according to a new TUC analysis published today (Monday). 

The TUC has looked at the impact of cuts on local government funding across England.  

In 2010/11, councils in the region were spending a total of £4.61bn on key services such as social care, waste management, libraries and transport. 

But in 2018/2019 – following years of funding cuts from Westminster – that spending has fallen £370 million to £4.24bn.  

This works out to 13% (£78) less being spent on services per person in the region. 

Biggest losers 

The five councils with the biggest spending drops on vital services in the region since 2010/11 are: 

  • Exeter: spending 49% (£13.4 million) a year less on key council services 

  • Gloucester: spending 42% (£10.9 million) a year less on key council services 

  • North Devon: spending 41% (£7 million) a year less on key council services 

  • South Somerset: spending 34% (£9.5 million) a year less on key council services 

  • Christchurch: spending 31% (£3.1 million) a year less on key council services 

Across England, councils are spending £7.8 billion a year overall – £150 million a week – less on key services than they were in 2010, before the spending cuts were introduced. 

Impact of central government cuts 

Central government grant funding to local authorities has been cut significantly since 2010. 

The Local Government Association estimates that councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 the government had provided to spend on local services in the last eight years alone. 

Poorer communities have been hit harder 

By targeting cuts on central government grants, ministers have disproportionately impacted councils in more deprived areas of Britain, says the TUC. 

Local councils today are increasingly reliant on raising income through council tax, their share of business rates, and other local charges and fees.  

It means that councils in more deprived areas of the country are struggling as they are less able to raise significant funding this way. 

Nigel Costley, TUC Regional Secretary in the South West, said:  

“Government ministers have spent a decade slashing council funding for local services across the region.  

“It’s affected our local services that many in our communities really depend upon, like youth services, sure start centres, libraries and local transport systems.  

“We need a plan for healing the pain a decade of Conservative cuts have caused. That means new investment to restore council budgets back to where they were at the start of the decade.” 

TUC South West spoke to local authorities who were being forced to make cutbacks. They painted a desperate picture for their residents. 


Marvin Rees, the elected Mayor of Bristol, said:

“Here in Bristol, we have seen the largest dis-investment in the entire south west – bringing major pressure onto our local libraries, children’s centres, and council tax safety net for the poorest.

“Our Labour council have reduced senior management by £1 million per year to protect all of these important front line services, despite opposition from the council’s Conservatives and the other opposition parties.

“These stark statistics really show that councils like ours remain at breaking point. Bristol cannot afford another national government which chooses inaction on social care and chooses to cut our budget by £85 more per family than for people living in Tory-run local authorities.”



Councillor Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of Plymouth City Council said:

“Appalling as £32m less a year sounds, the picture is even worse. Inflation over the last 9 years means that the council is spending over £50m less in real terms on essential services.

"Not only has the Government not kept up with inflation, it’s been cutting us at the same time. This double whammy means that the council has had to cut down on its essential services.

“When you vote in the General Election this year and you value local services please think about what this current Government has done to devastate budgets in local councils.”


Councillor Doina Cornell, Leader of Stroud District Council said:

“These shocking figures show local government has been punished with a decade of cuts. If nothing changes, we face a frightening future where we can't fund the services local people rely on to keep the places where they live safe and thriving, and our most vulnerable residents supported.

"We need to stop this so we can start investing again in our communities and meet the challenges of social isolation, declining high streets and climate change."

Editors note

- A full list of all local authorities in England is available here:  

Local Authority
Real terms change to total expenditure 2010/11 - 2018/19 (thousands)
Total expenditure % change
Change in per capita spending
% change per capita
Exeter -13,431 -49% -£125 -54%
Gloucester -10,923 -42% -£99 -46%
North Devon -7,046 -41% -£76 -41%
South Somerset -9,557 -34% -£64 -36%
Christchurch -3,153 -31% -£74 -35%
Stroud -5,172 -29% -£52 -33%
Tewkesbury -3,492 -29% -£52 -36%
West Devon -2,947 -28% -£59 -30%
Teignbridge -5,477 -27% -£51 -32%
South Hams -3,673 -27% -£47 -29%
Sedgemoor -4,629 -27% -£49 -32%
Mendip -4,797 -25% -£50 -29%
Torridge -2,999 -25% -£56 -30%
Purbeck -2,142 -25% -£52 -28%
Mid Devon -2,826 -23% -£41 -26%
East Devon -4,527 -22% -£43 -27%
Forest of Dean -2,955 -21% -£43 -25%
North Dorset -1,993 -19% -£33 -22%
Cheltenham -4,056 -19% -£38 -21%
Bournemouth UA -28,883 -17% -£209 -26%
Torbay UA -22,350 -16% -£203 -21%
East Dorset -1,943 -15% -£26 -18%
Bath & North East Somerset UA -22,023 -15% -£179 -21%
Cotswold -1,901 -13% -£30 -18%
Plymouth UA -31,967 -13% -£147 -17%
Bristol UA -52,023 -11% -£199 -17%
North Somerset UA -16,997 -10% -£128 -15%
Poole UA -11,813 -10% -£99 -16%
Swindon UA -15,149 -9% -£116 -12%
West Dorset -1,171 -7% -£16 -10%
Dorset -18,532 -6% -£66 -12%
Cornwall UA -23,410 -5% -£89 -13%
Devon -22,946 -4% -£67 -11%
Gloucestershire -16,420 -4% -£62 -10%
South Gloucestershire UA -8,020 -4% -£82 -5%
Somerset -7,990 -2% -£45 -11%
Weymouth & Portland 77 1% £0 0%
West Somerset 100 2% £4 3%
Wiltshire UA 27,456 8% £16 1%
Taunton Deane 2,022 13% £8 6%


- These figures are based on net total expenditure outturn for 353 local authorities in England, provided in the Local authority revenue expenditure and financing: England figures for 2010/11 and 2018/19 provided by MHCLG.  

- This covers all Non-Metropolitan County Councils, Metropolitan Borough Councils, Unitary Authorities, London Boroughs and District Councils in England. Spending figures for 2010/11 have been adjusted to 2018/19 prices based on CPI.  

- It is understood that in certain specific cases there may be variance in the totals shown or the methods of recording figures between individual local authorities and the figures collated by MHCLG. These figures are taken from those presented in MHCLG data sets.  

- We have focused only on expenditure related to core local government services and those services that are comparable over the given period – we have therefore excluded education, early years, public health and police and fire services as well as spend on benefits.  

- We include spending on highways and transport, children and adults social care, housing, culture, environment, planning and central services. In addition to net total expenditure we have added NHS cash transfers to local authority social care budgets, for example through the Better Care Fund in 2018/19 and through the Valuing People Now programme in 2010/11.  

- The figures in 2018/19 relate to local authorities as they were constituted in that year – this therefore does not account for District and Unitary Authority mergers that took place in Dorset, Suffolk and Somerset in April 2019.  

- The figures also exclude the City of London and Isles of Scilly local authorities due to their unique position.  

- Upper tier authorities include all London Boroughs, Non-Metropolitan County Councils, Metropolitan Boroughs and Unitary Authorities. This excludes funding provided by transport authorities and combined authorities that are spent in local authority areas, e.g. by the Greater London Authority or Manchester Combined Authority. 

- LGA estimates about cuts to local government funding are at: 

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