Labour lead­ers warn of ‘so­cial col­lapse’ in let­ter to PM

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

LABOUR lead­ers in the West Mid­lands have writ­ten to the Prime Min­is­ter warn­ing that the re­gion is on the brink of ‘so­cial col­lapse’.

The open let­ter calls on the govern­ment for a ‘com­plete re­form’ of fund­ing for lo­cal coun­cils, ar­gu­ing that aus­ter­ity cuts since 2010 have had a ‘dis­as­trous’ im­pact on ser­vices.

The govern­ment, how­ever, has hit back stat­ing the re­gion will have more ‘power’ to cap­i­talise on growth from busi­ness rates.

It comes as Theresa May told the Con­ser­va­tive Party Con­fer­ence in Birm­ing­ham last week that the end to aus­ter­ity is ‘in sight’ and spend­ing on lo­cal ser­vices will in­crease af­ter Brexit.

Prior to the event a Labour let­ter, en­dorsed by party leader Jeremy Cor­byn, had been pub­li­cised declar­ing that the West Mid­lands has ‘had enough’ of govern­ment cuts.

It was signed by Coun­cil­lor Ian Ward, the leader of Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil, along with the lead­ers of Labour ad­min­is­tra­tions in Dud­ley, Sandwell, Wolver­hamp­ton, Coven­try, Can­nock Chase, Telford and Wrekin, Nuneaton and Bed­worth.

A host of MPs, Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner David Jamieson and var­i­ous union rep­re­sen­ta­tives also backed it.

The let­ter said: “We be­lieve govern­ment’s cur­rent path of aus­ter­ity leads to in­fras­truc­tural and so­cial col­lapse.

“We there­fore call on govern­ment to re­verse the dis­as­trous pol­icy of aus­ter­ity that has dom­i­nated think­ing in the Trea­sury since 2010 and has been dis­pro­por­tion­ately weighted against lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

“We also de­mand com­plete re­form of Lo­cal Govern­ment fund­ing to make coun­cils more sus­tain­able and more ac­count­able to the lo­cal elec­torate. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties should be given the power to set lo­cal taxes and re­tain lo­cal rev­enue, al­low­ing the pro­ceeds lo­cally.”

In re­sponse a spokesman from the Min­istry of Hous­ing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Govern­ment said: “Coun­cils across the West Mid­lands will re­ceive over £9.1 bil­lion over the next two years to meet the needs of their res­i­dents. Au­thor­i­ties in the re­gion have also been given the power to re­tain the growth in busi­ness rates in­come, and this is ex­pected to raise an ex­tra £52m.” of growth to be kept

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