FOLLOWING my letter in the Advertiser I had a phone call off a good friend in the Labour Party. We had a good discussion about how, not just in Rotherham, council services often go to those who shout loudest rather than where there is need and how more deprived neighbourhoods tend to under-report their problems.
That is for discussion on another day as one thing he raised as a good party member was my maths on the area housing funding (AHF) for Rotherham’s most deprived wards, asking should it be more like £36,000 rather than the £22,350 I stated?
The answer is “yes” if each area received the same funding per council house but the formula used to decide funding on this in Rotherham doesn’t do so.
The best way to illustrate this is to use the figures for the 2019/20 financial year and compare two wards at either end of Herringthorpe Valley Road, my own ward of Valley, the second most deprived ward in Rotherham, and Sitwell, the least deprived.
The 19/20 AHF funding saw an average of £10 per council property across the borough for tenants to improve the security and environment on their estates.
Valley received £5.99 per council home while Sitwell received £25.42. Had Valley received funding at the same rate as the borough average that would have meant an extra £7,488 a year to spend on estates in communities like Dalton, East Herringthorpe and Thrybergh; had we been funded at the same rate as Sitwell an extra £36,711.
When compared to the problems they have to face this unequal funding can also be seen in other devolved funds for capital projects and the councillor community leadership funding for local groups.
Each neighbourhood in England has a points score to measure deprivation measuring income, employment, education, skills and training, health and disability, crime, barriers to housing and the living environment.
The average Rotherham ward receives £507 in neighbourhood funding per aggregate deprivation point. Valley gets £317, Sitwell £1,157. If funding matched the Rotherham average pounds per deprivation point that would mean an extra £8,620 to help deal with the extra problems Dalton, East Herringthorpe and Thrybergh face and if at the same rate of deprivation as Stag and communities along East Bawtry Road an extra £38,073.
Now this isn’t the whole story as areas such as the community leadership fund need stricter rules applying to them. In the past years we’ve seen here in Valley Ward these funds used not in our highly deprived communities but by councillors who do not live here to support pet projects in other parts of town or that are borough-wide and should be centrally funded, and several opposition politicians have concerns that the funding is used in a sometimes political way.
Now my friend still has an invite to tea when Covid is all over but I will continue to remind them they are a member of a party which whether it’s wildflowers, taking better quality buses off the X78 route to put on the X1, the flat rate brown bin tax or devolved funding, looks after neighbourhoods along Wickersley and East Bawtry Roads where their councillors live rather than along Fitzwilliam and Doncaster Roads where they do not.
Michael Sylvester, Thrybergh