My position on the coalition Government’s cuts has been well documented on the pages of the Morley Observer & Advertiser.
The rise in VAT to 20 per cent was the wrong tax rise at the wrong time. And the cuts have gone too far, too fast. The economy was recovering from the international financial crisis but this recovery was choked off and our economy has flat-lined since the summer of 2010.
Here in Morley the impact has been acute. People on middle and lower incomes have less money in their pockets. Prices are rising faster than wages and reforms of child benefit, tax credits, Disability Living Allowance and other financial support have led to a surge in people getting in touch with me for help. Despite promises that the frontline would be protected, cuts in policing budgets are impacting on our local police teams. Morley Fire Station was threatened because of cuts in fire service budgets.
Of course cuts and savings needed to be made. But savings should be fair.
Why have the wealthiest areas of the country not seen big cuts in their fire and rescue budgets? Why has Leeds City Council had to make bigger cuts than other areas? And why are the richest people in the country about to receive a tax cut worth £100,000 a year while families in Morley are having their tax credits reduced?
Locally we’re united in arguing against this unfairness. Despite vastly different levels of need and deprivation, Leeds will soon have the same budget per person as much wealthier areas like Wokingham in Berkshire. Politicians from all the main parties across the city are writing to the Secretary of State for Local Government to express our concern at the impact of the cuts on our communities. It’s good to see cross party agreement. It would be better if there was some more fairness from national Government too.
Down in Westminster I’ll continue to pursue the injustice of decisions being taken. Unfortunately, we’re not out of the woods yet. The economy continues to struggle. I fear that unless there is a proper plan to support jobs and growth, families, pensioners and small businesses will continue to struggle.
Close to home there is some good news for sports fans. Bruntcliffe school will soon have a state of the art, all weather pitch, which will be available for the whole community to enjoy.
Over the last few months I’ve been working with local councillors to persuade Leeds City Council to release the final piece of funding. Section 106 money from the Council is funding linked to new building developments and means the community get something back.
I met up with headteacher, Heather Scott, Couns Mark Dobson and Neil Dawson to see how the work was coming along and to see confirmation of the final piece of funding. The new pitch will be a brilliant resource. I’m looking forward to seeing the pitch when it’s finally finished in a few weeks.