A timely report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation underlines what many of us already suspected: the government's cuts in public spending are hitting deprived areas hardest. The circumstances may have resulted in some desirable efficiences and innovative solutions in the provision of front-line services, but there's only so much that can be done and, with the prospect of further cuts to come, the situation looks bleak.
JRF is calling on the government to put the brakes on austerity measures (the pace at which costs are being slashed is one of the biggest challenges) and to ensure that deprived areas aren't disproportionately affected. It'll be interesting to see whether any of the parties - particularly the Tories - even acknowledge the report and the issue itself, let alone commit to implementing the recommended measures to mitigate the problem.
For a case study of a local authority feeling the strain, see John Harris' portrait of Newcastle.