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Feb 07 2013

Harrow’s “Fair Grant” Campaign – Labour’s Comparisons Bizarre

susan_hall_150x150Labour-run Harrow Council recently launched a ‘Fair Grant’ campaign, to petition the Government for more funding. Given our administration ran a very similar campaign in 2007- 08, we naturally welcome any attempts to highlight Harrow’s financial settlement – which is £450 per-resident less than the outer-London average.

However, Labour’s decision to compare Harrow with Brent in order to justify a larger grant is both bizarre and unhelpful. It’s certainly convenient for Labour to do as such, since Brent receives the 4th highest per-resident settlement in London. Yet this fails to recognise the significant differences between the two boroughs in terms of poverty.

Labour is correct to say that Harrow has some poorer areas, but the 2010 Deprivation Index ranked Brent as the 24th most deprived area nationally – containing 6 out of the top 100 most disadvantaged wards in London – Harrow has none. In fact, Harrow ranked 184th, is one of the least deprived boroughs in London, and has actually become less deprived since 2007 – which is good news.

For instance, under half the number of crimes occurred in Harrow (13,793) in 2012 than in Brent (28,546). And just 4.5% of Harrow’s working-age population is unemployed, compared with 6% in Brent. There are certain relevant demographic factors we have in common – the 2011 census showed we experienced similar increases in the percentages of children aged 0-4 (33% in Harrow and 38% in Brent) – but we remain very different boroughs.

If we compare Harrow with Merton – similar crime, deprivation and unemployment rates – we find Merton actually receives nearly £50 less per-resident than Harrow. Merton is Labour- run (like Harrow) but is freezing council tax and absorbing the cost of council tax localization; proving what matters is choices not cuts.

While we support trying to get more funding for Harrow, we have to recognise that the Government funds outer-London boroughs to the tune of more than £10 billion per year – just under £18 billion for the whole of London. So if we want to have a sensible debate about Harrow’s funding, comparing us with boroughs which are nothing like us does our case no good at all.

Yours,

Cllr. Susan Hall (Conservative Group Leader)
Cllr. Barry Macleod-Cullinane (Conservative Group Deputy Leader)
Harrow Council

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