Catherine demands respite from Government cuts to local services

Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, yesterday urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to finally give her constituents some respite from the impact of cuts to local services, after eight years of Conservative-led Government.

Questioning Philip Hammond during his appearance before the Treasury Select Committee in Parliament yesterday, Catherine highlighted that, by 2020, Newcastle City Council will have lost £283million from its budget – equating to £268 per head. This compares to an England-wide reduction of £131 per person, and just £2 per head in Wokingham, Berkshire.

The Newcastle North MP challenged the fairness of the disproportionate cuts faced by areas like Newcastle – and the Government’s determination to shift the burden of raising funds for frontline services to local people in some of the most deprived parts of the country, through increases to council tax, the social care and police precepts, at the same time as they are seeing cuts to the services they receive.

During the Select Committee session, Catherine went on to ask:

‘Could I just say to the Chancellor that local service provision is one of the biggest issues now in my constituency mailbox?

‘Local people are concerned about litter, graffiti, anti-social behaviour, vandalism, grass cutting, dog fouling, and cuts to youth services. You name it about local services, they are concerned about it…

‘…They might appear like low-level issues but they are having a real impact on the quality of life of local people, and their ability to enjoy their environment.

‘So, can the Chancellor give my constituents some hope that there is going to be some respite from the continuous cuts to local services that are having such a detrimental impact?’

Catherine also pressed the Chancellor on the long-term sustainability of local councils following eight years of significant funding cuts, and continued uncertainty about how they will be funded in the future. This follows concerns raised by the Local Government Association this week that local authorities are facing a financial cliff edge in the next two years.

The Newcastle North MP went on to urge the Chancellor yesterday to urgently address the social care funding gap facing local authorities, which stands at £2.2billion by 2020 for adult social care alone.

Following yesterday’s session, Catherine commented:

‘My constituents are sick and tired of this Government’s never-ending assault on local services, following eight years of punitive cuts. Yet, the Government now expects them to pay more for even less. This is totally unacceptable and unfair.

‘It’s also deeply concerning that Ministers are still unable to clarify just how local councils will be funded beyond 2020, and that no analysis appears to have been done on whether local authorities – and the services they provide – will be sustainable at all after that point.’

Catherine’s questioning of the Chancellor at the Treasury Select Committee can be watched in full here.