DARLINGTON Borough Council is one of the first authorities in the country to publish its budget plans for the next four years.

The funding crisis faced by the authority is unlikely to be unique with other councils sure to find themselves in a similar position when they do the sums - or worse.

But the way the Government has divided up the money for local authorities since 2010 means council chiefs in the town believe their authority - and others across the North-East - have been unfairly hit by the cuts.

Darlington Council bosses illustrate their concerns by pointing out the case of Wokingham Borough Council in Berkshire.

Ten years ago the two councils' total funding was similar. Darlington received £102 million, while Wokingham got £113 million.

However, Wokingham is a much more affluent area than Darlington, meaning its council tax receipts were far higher and its government funding was less.

In 2010/11, Darlington received £32 million in council tax while the Berkshire authority received £73 million.

This meant Wokingham needed less help from the government to provide services - it received £43 million compared to the £70 million Darlington got.

Looking forward to 2019/20, officers at Darlington point out that while both councils have lost around half their government funding, Wokingham's total funding will have increased to £119 million because of its higher council tax revenues, while Darlington will receive £86 million - around £16 million less than ten years earlier.

Darlington Council officers say there are other pressures on their budget. Since 2010 the Government has passed on responsibilities such as public heath and financial responsibility for the council tax support scheme to councils.

However, local authorities have not been given the same amount of funding to run the services that the Government had - a situation which has further increased financial pressures.

In response to claims Darlington and other North-East councils are not getting a fair funding deal, the Department for Communities and Local Government said Darlington Borough Council core spending power was forecast to increase by 0.6 per cent and the county would have over £315 million to spend between now and 2020.

A spokesman added: “This Government is providing a long-term funding settlement for the first time allowing local authorities to plan with certainty.

“By the end of this Parliament, councils will be financed from local revenue including retaining 100 per cent of the growth in business rates, ensuring places like Darlington benefit from the economic growth and inward investment in their area – something local government has spent decades campaigning for.”