The coalition is facing a damaging double-pronged assault from town hall chiefs who feel they are being unfairly punished by cuts in local government spending and rural authorities who claim that the shires are losing out disproportionately under the Government's cuts.
The council leaders of three of England's biggest cities - Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield - have warned of increasing social unrest and community tensions in the north, which they say has been hit worse by austerity than the south, in a letter to the Observer.
A three-year-old girl who died after falling from the fourth floor of a block of flats has been named locally as Rayaheem Banimuslim.
Family friend Baseem Alsabbagh, 36, said the girl was playing on the balcony on Wednesday when she fell.
He said her mother was with her and watched her fall. He added that the family was from Iraq and the father, Hikmat, was studying for a PhD at Sheffield Hallam University. He said the family moved to the block of flats last September.
He said: "They are heartbroken. She was a lovely, beautiful baby. I can't describe it. She was playing with other kids nicely. Her mother saw her fall down."