Midland shires yesterday accused the Chancellor of penalising them at the expense of their urban neighbours as he unveiled a twoyear programme of local government funding.
Gordon Brown boosted the allocation for the region?s authorities by #79 million for 2006/ 07 and a further #109 million the following financial year.
It was accompanied by warnings that the Government would cap any authority which imposed a council tax increase above five per cent.
The move was welcomed by a Birmingham MP ? the city will receive the equivalent of #441 more per person than Worcestershire ? but dismayed Councillor Adrian Hardman, the cabinet member for finance on Worcestershire County Council.
Accusing the Government of ignoring his county?s needs, he said: ?They don?t seem to accept that we have a growing population and increasing demands on our services.
?Our education and social service departments are among the most efficient in the country, but that seems to work against us.?
Total Government funding for the Midlands ? which includes the West Midlands conurbation, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire ? is to increase from #2.64 billion to #2.72 billion.
It means the region?s local authorities will enjoy an average budget increase of three per cent, while inflation is about two per cent.
In 2007/08, funding will increase by another #109 million, or four per cent.
But there continued to be major discrepancies between different urban and rural parts of the region.
In Birmingham, funding next year will be #562 million, or # 567 per person. In Worcestershire, it will be # 69 million, or # 126 per person.
The announcement came as Mr Brown was forced to admit the economy?s performance was far worse than predicted.
In his budget last year, he forecast growth of three to 3.5 per cent.
But delivering his pre-Budget report to MPs yesterday, he admitted Britain had faced a ?tough year? and growth would only be 1.75 per cent.
Authorities could struggle to keep council tax bills down after receiving smaller funding increases than last year?s pre-election giveaway, when many were forced to raise council tax by more than four per cent and Shropshire imposed a five per cent rise.
The Chancellor also announced yesterday that he was diverting #812 million from Whitehall departments to local councils across the country over two years, to help them keep tax increases down.
West Midlands Police is to receive a budget increase of #15 million, or 3.6 per cent, next year.
Last night Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr) said: ?For the first time we have a two- year announcement which allow councils to plan ahead.
?I welcome this more constructive way of funding local authorities. There is no excuse for excessive tax increases and I?m waiting to see what Birmingham City Council will do.?