GWYNNE BLOG: Cuts to Local Government are crippling services

320px-manchester_town_hall_towerWe need to set up a fair and sustainable funding settlement for local communities and the services they rely on. 

Local government has been cut at a rate roughly double that of the rest of the state, and the cuts have fallen in the poorest areas.

The numbers are staggering when you consider the human element.

Care services provided to about 150,000 pensioners have been scrapped by local councils, and child protection spending has been cut by 8 per cent since 2010, according to the Financial Times.

The huge cuts to local government are an attempt to hide the true nature of this Government’s economic policy. They think that blame for these catastrophic cuts can be shifted on to someone else. But the cuts are profoundly political.

In March, the IFS assessed the impact of the austerity measures ordered by the Government and found that that the poorest areas are being cut much more deeply than wealthier areas. The 10 most deprived local authority areas have lost £782 per household while the 10 wealthiest areas lost just £48 per household.

It is appalling that the cuts have fallen on the areas that need funding the most.

The cuts serve a purpose beyond simply papering over the cracks in the failing Tory plan to reduce the deficit. They are an attempt by this Conservative Government to irreparably cripple local government with the result that a whole level of the state will have been shrunk by a huge proportion. It makes a mockery of the ‘northern powerhouse’ notion.

While they have cut councils’ funding by 40% they have increased funding for the Cabinet Office and cut taxes for the wealthiest. It is an ideological attack on a whole level of government.

It gets nothing more than farcical as soon as the Prime Minister gets involved.

David Cameron complained to his own local council leader in Oxfordshire about the level of cuts to local services, as if he had nothing to do with it. But these cuts are driven entirely the political outlook of George Osborne and David Cameron. Yet they have no idea what effect they are having on the ground, because they have never had to use the kinds of essential services local authorities provide.

The Government’s cuts to funding for local councils are tearing apart the fabric of our local communities. Around the country, libraries and children’s centres are shutting their doors, old people are not getting the care they need and deserve, youth services are disappearing, roads are going unrepaired and local communities are losing the tools for economic growth.

I hope the Prime Minister sees sense soon and negotiates a more reasonable settlement – instead of simply handing down staggering cuts to council leaders and telling them to get on with it.

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