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‘Levelling up’? Don’t count on the Tories

John Harris correctly identifies that, for all this Tory government’s warm words about “levelling up” and “the end of austerity”, all over the country austerity is nonetheless grinding on (Austerity has cut too deep to ‘level up’ – the damage is done, Journal, 10 February).

In my former constituency of Heywood and Middleton, the local authority, Rochdale council, has had to make £180m in cuts since 2010 due to central government underfunding. Rochdale council is one of the 20 worst-hit upper-tier local authorities in the country, spending 27% less now than it did in 2010.

The TUC says that by targeting cuts on central government grants, councils in more deprived areas like Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale have been disproportionately impacted. Councils in more deprived areas are less able to raise significant income through council tax and business rates, and therefore less able to make up the shortfall; a perfect storm for the provision of social care and basic services.

Last week, the Labour party put forward an amendment which called for the government to ensure local authorities are properly funded through a fairer system that properly takes account of deprivation need and differing council-tax bases. That amendment was resoundingly defeated by Tory votes, including that of my successor, who talks the talk of “levelling up” and of putting right the decade of neglect by his party. Sadly for the people who have to live with these cuts, in practice he and this new crop of Tory MPs appear to wish to continue with the austerity project, and are trying to shift the blame on to Labour-run councils.
Liz McInnes
Former Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton

John Harris’s disturbing article highlights the effect of government cuts on our children’s services. As a teaching assistant at a school in the north-east, I see the damage being caused to children and their families. My MP seems to think that the proliferation of food banks in these parts is due to financial carelessness by users. I have sent him a series of polite letters querying government policies on domestic and military matters. He ignored all these, but sent me a colourful leaflet soliciting my vote in the general election.
Ken Veitch
Greenhead, Northumberland

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