MP demands fair funding for town
MP Tony Lloyd has called on the government to ensure Rochdale ‘gets the same advantages as Surrey.’
Speaking in a debate in Parliament on the government’s new ‘fair funding review’ for local authorities, Mr Lloyd said the £176m slashed from Rochdale’s council’s budget in recent years has ‘had a real impact on children’s services and adult social services.’
But Mr Lloyd told Rochdale-born Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, that his home-town’s ‘capacity to raise new money by increasing council tax is not anything like as significant as it is in places like Surrey,’ adding: “Will the Secretary of State tell the House whether, under his fair funding review, the Rochdales will end up in the same advantageous positions as the Surreys?”
Mr Javid replied: “[Mr Lloyd] will understand that the purpose of the review is that it is based on evidence and I am not going to pre-empt that. We will take our time to get it right. If Rochdale has a case to make, it should certainly respond to the consultation I launched today. Rochdale is part of the business rates retention pilot and I know it welcomes that. When we allocate new funding for things such as adult social care, other fundraising powers are taken into account.”
Meanwhile Mr Lloyd also called on the government to increase police budgets, saying ‘it is not possible to maintain public safety’ after GMP’s funding was cut for the eight year in a row.
Mr Lloyd, Greater Manchester’s former Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Were I still a police and crime commissioner, I could not maintain the same level of policing on this budget and the Minister must know that. The reality is that with inflationary pressures in general terms and the need to fund a legitimate police rise and, on top of that, the increasing demand for policing services, it simply is not possible to maintain public safety.
“He really has got to stand up and tell the public the truth. This is not a fair settlement.”
Nick Hurd, the Minister of State at the Home Office, replied: “I hesitate to correct someone who knows what he is talking about, but [Mr Lloyd] is talking as though this settlement is proposed in complete isolation.
“He and Labour front benchers are ignoring the fact that we work closely with police chiefs and the PCCs. The independent review that the PCCs and chiefs undertook, independently of Government, came to a very similar conclusion about what was needed in terms of funding for 2018-19.
“We have listened to them and delivered on that. It is their view that we are most interested in.”
Mr Lloyd’s comments come after Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham accused the government of ‘gambling with public safety’ over police cuts.
GMP would only get a funding increase next April if the region raises council tax. It is understood that the maximum £10.4m that could bring in would only cover a planned one per cent pay increase for officers.
●●Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd quizzed Minister Sajid Javid