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The most deprived council areas have seen the biggest falls in spending in these services – up to 22% on average over five years among the most deprived fifth of authorities, compared with just 5% among the wealthiest.
The poorest areas had an especially sharp spending fall in, for example, food and water safety inspection, road safety and school crossings, community centres and services aimed at cutting crime – such as CCTV – and support for local bus services. There were wide variations across the country, with some councils cutting neighbourhood services by 40% while others have increased these budgets by 20%. The cuts to neighbourhood services have taken place against a backdrop of unprecedented cuts in local government spending as a share of the economy. In 2010-11, it accounted for 8.4% of the economy, falling to 6.7% by 2015-16. By 2020-21, it will be down to 5.7%, a 60-year low, the report says. Although much of the political focus of local government cuts has been on social care services, the impact on neighbourhood services, which include highways and transport, cultural services, environmental services and planning, has been far greater, the report says.