A ST HELENS MP has chaired a 47-strong group calling for the end of "unequal" government funding that has seen council budgets slashed.

Chaired by St Helens South & Whiston MP Marie Rimmer, the SIGOMA Fairer Funding campaign was launched in the House of Lords last week, with representatives of 47 councils coming together for the pursuit of financial reforms.

With government-funded council budgets slashed from 55 percent in 2013/14 to 37 percent ten years later, the SIGOMA group is calling for a radical shift in government policy to allow local authorities to invest in their communities and their long-term future.

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St Helens Star: Marie Rimmer chaired the 47-strong groupMarie Rimmer chaired the 47-strong group (Image: Marie Rimmer MP)

The group, which is predominantly made up of MPs and council representatives from more deprived communities, highlighted how central funding has shifted from a "fair distribution of funds" to a structure that rewards high-value housing stock and business rates over the past decade.

With councils now receiving millions of pounds less in central funding, the group state that this transformation has only benefitted wealthier areas that rely less on grant funding and that raise more from council tax and business rates.

St Helens Star: Marie Rimmer MP speaking at the Parliament eventMarie Rimmer MP speaking at the Parliament event (Image: Marie Rimmer MP)

Marie Rimmer MP, chair of SIGOMA MPs said: “Our country is far too unequal. For too long austerity has been allowed to cripple the public services that local communities rely on. The only way to fix this is to have fair funding based first and foremost on need. 

“The last few years have seen councils forced to bid for scraps while having their budgets slashed.  This is no way for a government in Westminster to operate. I am grateful for the work SIGOMA are doing on this and I urge the Government to take on board the recommendations. Listen to what local council leaders are saying and give them fair funding.”

In their manifesto for fairer funding, the SIGOMA group has called for a reform of local government finances, an end to the competitive Levelling Up bidding between councils, the provision of long-term funding for local bus services, and an investment in housing developments and energy retrofitting.

The expansion of devolved powers is another way for local leaders to make further executive decisions on spending, the manifesto states.