A group representing local authorities has said the funding of local government by Westminster needs reform — with two Somerset authorities losing almost a sixth of their central government funding since 2010.

According to figures from the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA), who represent urban councils, funding from central government still made up 55% of council’s core spending power as recently as 2014. But now it only covers 37%, with councils having to raise local revenue such as council tax to make up the shortfall.

North Somerset Council and Bath and North East Somerset Council both saw their funding cut by 15% since 2010, according to the group’s figures.

Both councils raised their council tax by the maximum amount possible in their recent budgets, passed in February.

Drawing up the Bath and North East Somerset Council budget at a cabinet meeting in February, the council’s cabinet member for resources Richard Samuel said the Conservative government had “chipped away” at the council’s revenue support grant, reducing it from £30m in 2013 to £800k in the last financial year.

Although, as the full council met to agree the budget later that month, Conservative opposition group leader Vic Pritchard accused him of “blaming” successive governments but leaving out Liberal Democrats’ time in coalition.

Meanwhile in February, at North Somerset Council’s budget meeting, executive member for children, young people, lifelong learning and skills Catherine Gibbons accused the government of creating “a kind of hunger games for councils.”

She said: “They identify people who are in need and say: ‘Here’s a pot of money and you’ve got to compete for it.’ So we have competed for money. That means we have won it which is great for our residents but there are other equally needy areas of the country who didn’t get it.

“And its just an unsustainable way of supporting our communities in my opinion.”

But North Somerset Conservative opposition group leader Nigel Ashton said: “No central government has ever or will ever give local government enough money. Local government is more than ever about providing statutory services and not imposing on our residents pet ideological policies.”

But both the councils escaped with cuts below the average for England, which SIGOMA states was almost 20%.

The group allege that the 10 most deprived local authorities have seen cuts three times higher, on average, than the 10 richest — a group in which they include Bath and North East Somerset.

Chair of the group and Barnsley borough councillor Sir Stephen Houghton said: “The system needs serious reform.”

He added: “The poorest areas have seen the biggest cuts and for “levelling up” to mean anything the Government should be looking to reverse these cuts and create a funding formula that [allocates] funding according to council needs.”

John Wimperis