Labour attacks 'shameless' PM over cash for Tory councils


David Cameron has been accused of a "shameless attempt to buy votes" after claims that nearly all the extra cash set aside to help councils cope with funding changes is going to Conservative areas.

A £300 million package of transitional support is being created to soften the impact of reforms that will do away with revenue support grants in favour of a greater reliance on local business rates.

Labour analysis shows that 83% of the money will go to Tory-run councils, with Surrey, Hampshire and Hertfordshire the biggest winners.

Oxfordshire County Council, which covers the Prime Minister's Witney constituency, will receive an extra £9m over the next two years.

Labour said that while stretched areas like Middlesbrough, Knowsley, Hull, Liverpool and Manchester would not receive any of the cash, the country's least deprived areas, Hart, Wokingham, Chiltern, Waverley, Elmbridge, would receive a total of £5.3m.

Shadow local government minister Steve Reed told the Guardian Mr Cameron had engaged in a "blatant misuse of public money in a shameless attempt to buy votes and buy off Tory MPs".

"The Government is covering up where this money has come from and won't explain why almost all of it is being handed to Tory councils just weeks before council elections across the country," he said.

Transitional funding was announced after concerns were raised that rural areas would lose out under a system more geared towards business rates.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "This long-term funding settlement for councils is fair and ensures that councils facing the highest demand for services continue to receive more funding and have higher spending power than less deprived authorities.

"The transitional funding has gone to those councils facing the biggest fall in central government grant.

"The settlement for the first time allows councils to plan with certainty, with almost £200bn to spend on local services and a £3.5 billion social care funding package over the lifetime of this Parliament."