CUTS to council services in Oldham resulting from government austerity measures have hit twice as deep as wealthier areas of the UK, according to a study.

The research by the University of Cambridge found the town was among the 10 worst affected English councils hit be cuts triggered by the 2008 financial crisis.

Oldham sits alongside Salford, Wigan, South Tyneside, Gateshead and Camden in north London among the hardest hit authorities.

The council now led by Sean Fielding has suffered a 42 per cent cut in spending on its services in the last 10 years.

Dr Mia Gray, an economic geography specialist who co-authored the study, said: “The idea that austerity has hit all areas equally is nonsense.

“Local councils rely, to varying degrees, on central government, and we have found a clear relationship between grant dependence and cuts in service spending.

“The councils in greatest need have the weakest local economies. Many areas with populations that are ageing or struggling to find employment have very little in the way of a public safety net.”

The research found that of the 46 councils which cut spending by more than 30 per cent over the last eight years, all were in England.

The study, published in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, and based on data gathered by the Institute of Fiscal Studies said that a large area of “Middle England”, where local authorities were less reliant on central government, had experienced smaller cuts.

It said that the findings underline the risk of austerity fuelling disparities between regions because measures such as the local retention of business taxes could result in a “race to the bottom” as councils compete to attract employers.

Dr Gray added: “We are now seeing austerity policies turn into a downward spiral of disinvestment in certain people and places.

“Local councils in some communities have shrunk to the most basic of services.

“This could affect the life chances of entire generations born in the wrong part of the country.”

See also: Need for foodbank supplies soaring in Oldham

See also: Condemnation from town's political leaders in wake of austerity study