EAST MIDLANDS PARLIAMENTARY WATCHDOG CALLS FOR FAIR SHARES ON FUNDING

A report published today by MPs on the East Midlands Committee raises concerns that the East Midlands region may not be receiving an adequate share of Government funding. The MPs warn that police forces, railways, the health service and other public services are not getting their fare share because of out-of-date population statistics and the Government's failure to implement funding formulae in full.

Paddy Tipping MP, Chair of the Committee said:

"There have been substantial increases in spending on public services in recent years. Nevertheless, by the Government's own yard stick, some public services in the East Midlands do not receive a fair share.

"Our railways are underfunded. The West Coast Mainline is spending more on car park improvements than the Midland Mainline has been allocated for track improvements! We urge the government to approve the electrification of the Midland Mainline as soon as possible which will bring major transport, economic and environmental benefits to the East Midlands."

"Police forces, Primary Care Trusts and other public services in the East Midlands are receiving less than other regions due to adjustments made in funding levels to compensate other areas of the country, and the use of out-of-date population figures."

In recent years, the East Midlands has been the fastest growing English region in terms of population, but its share of funding has not always kept up with its rising population. The report identifies two reasons for this. The formulae used by Whitehall to determine funding levels are slow to register changes in population. And in some cases the Government deliberately uses a "floor-damping" mechanism to average out increases in public spending. This can have the effect of depriving the region of the share of funding it would otherwise have received€”with the region missing out on £19 million of police funding, for instance, which would have meant an additional 518 officers.

The Committee is urging the Government and the Office for National Statistics to ensure that the most current population figures are available to be used for funding decisions. The report also recommends more transparency and consultation on the way "floor damping" applies to police funding. The MPs are also calling on the Government to approve the electrification of the Midland Mainline as soon as possible.