West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper told Communities and Local Government Ministers their actions are bringing local government to its knees just as Thatcher did in the 1980s.
Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on Local Government Funding, MP Rosie spoke of how the day to day lives of West Lancashire residents are being hit by savage cuts to local councils’ funding.
A situation made worse by the government imposing reforms on councils’ funding formula without any discussions or arrangements to ease the financial burden. In the case of Lancashire County Council they had planned for £65 million in budget savings. These reforms have left them a further £11 million worse off this year alone. By 2020 the council will face a £303 million funding gap and will have used up all their reserves.
During the debate, MP Rosie offered examples of what this means for local residents with cuts to vital bus services that are a lifeline in rural communities and people without access to a car. Having been flooded over Christmas local authorities do not have the monies for the necessary flood prevention measures and government refuses to provide financial assistance for the creation of an Internal Drainage Board.
MP Rosie said:
“This government has tied the hands and feet of local authorities behind their backs, kicked them into the water and are now standing back saying it’s not our fault they can’t keep their heads above water.
“This government is pushing local authorities to the brink of collapse financially and in their ability to safely deliver services.
“It is not dramatic to say there is a crisis in local government. When councils fear by 2020 they can’t afford to provide services they are legally required to provide to local residents we should all be worried.
“The government is more concerned with making cuts for the sake of cuts. They want to appear to be making tough decisions. Taxpayers need them to be making the right decisions.
“Cutting budgets for social services doesn’t save money, it actually costs more money because people then have to stay longer in hospital because social care is not available, which ends up costing us more money not less.
“What this shows is this government knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. In the end it is the people of West Lancashire who are paying the price.