February 11, 2014


Prime Minister, David Cameron and his Local Government Minister Eric Pickles claim we're all in it together, and that those with the broadest shoulders must bear the biggest burden.

They say that their distribution of local government funding has been fair. But the figures show that the very opposite is the case. 

In fact, they are hitting the poorest communities hardest at a time when families are already struggling.

The government has imposed the biggest cuts in the public sector on local councils, even though they are the most efficient part of the public sector. Funding for local government has been cut by 40% over this parliament, with councils having to reduce their budgets by a total of £20bn by 2015-16. This huge reduction has not, however, been spread fairly between local authorities. We need to get the deficit down, but we need to do so fairly.

Under this government, using their own preferred measure of "spending power per household", the 25 most deprived local authorities in England will lose 10 times the amount in spending power per household compared to the 25 least deprived local authorities between 2010-11 and 2015-16. It is a legacy of this Tory-Lib Dem coalition.

This financial year, the prime minister's own local authority of West Oxfordshire – one of the least deprived areas in the country (ranked 316 out of 326 in the indices of multiple deprivation) – actually got an increase in spending power, while most places are having to deal with significant reductions. Over the whole parliament some of the wealthiest areas will see a rise in the amount of public money they have to spend per household.

It is quite simply scandalous that the most deprived areas including Sefton, are shouldering the greatest reductions in central government funding, while some of the wealthiest areas will find themselves even better off. What is more, government ministers simply don't understand the impact that these unfair decisions are having on communities like ours that rely on services for the young, the elderly and those most in need. They are hitting those who can least afford it the hardest.

The coalition is hitting the poorest people in those communities too. Pickles lectures councils and says they have a "moral duty" not to increase council tax bills this year, but unbelievably, at the same time he has dropped his own council tax bombshell on people on the lowest incomes by slapping charges on people on the lowest incomes both in work and out of work.

At a time when carers, the disabled, single mums, war widows and veterans are having to pay more council tax and the hated bedroom tax, Cameron has cut taxes for the wealthiest and refuses to rule out cutting the top rate of tax yet again. This tells you all you need to know about whose side he is on.

Cameron and Pickles seem to have no idea about the hardship that many communities and people are going through.

The next Labour government will inherit a very difficult financial situation. We won't be able to reverse the cuts we inherit. We can, however, make sure the way we go about deficit reduction and distributing public money is much fairer. So as well as distributing resources to councils to take far greater account of need, we need to make sure that we pass money and power down to communities more widely.

With rising pressures on councils, particularly on care for our elderly and disabled people and looked-after children, we have to change the way public services work to break down the barriers and get services working together.

This government has cut the living standards of the majority of people in this country and cut your services too. Yet they have protected the wealthiest. We know that we have to cut the deficit. But we need to do so fairly and that is what a future Labour government will do.

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