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CASH STRAPPED councils have sold a staggering £15 billion worth of public land and buildings amid devastating budget cuts since 2010, a new report has found.
Communities up and down the country have lost an estimated 75,000 assets since the Tories came into power, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The think tank’s research, which was based on Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to local authorities, was released today alongside the launch of a citizens’ blueprint for levelling up.
It comes after Birmingham City Council became the latest local authority to declare effective bankruptcy.
IPPR executive director Carys Roberts said that despite the Tories’ flagship Levelling Up policies: “Our economy and democracy are not yet structured to help people everywhere thrive.”
The think tank found that more than 6,000 council assets worth around £1.2bn annually have been sold on average every year during the last 13 years of the Tory administration.
Just 2,500 assets came into new community ownership since 2010, with a further 2,500 council-owned buildings and assets already at risk in the next five years, it said.
Following hearings held in Hastings, Redcar and Stoke-on-Trent, however, “a picture emerged of proud, hopeful communities compelled to patch up the holes in a threadbare social safety net,” a spokesman for the IPPR said.
IPPR North director and report co-author Zoe Billingham said: “People have lost far too much over the last 13 years.
“Communities have lost billions’ worth of public land and buildings in their areas, local safety nets are crumbling all while government plays fast and loose with major regional infrastructure projects.
“Regional rebalancing must be reprioritised by central government and through support of regional leaders who continue to champion the agenda locally.
“It’s time to rewire the status quo so that wealth, power and opportunity can be accessed and shared by everyone, in the places they live.”
The Parallel lives: Regionally rebalancing wealth, power and opportunity report contained recommendations including for a fair funding formula for local government.
It backed common good property registers: increasing transparency of public asset ownership, alongside support for communities to regain assets.
And it called for 1 per cent of local funding to be allocated to “participatory budgeting” so that citizens can get directly involved in the decisions made about their area.
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