Peterborough City Council Budget shows austerity is not over

Lisa Forbes
Lisa Forbes
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Despite claims from the government that ‘austerity is over’, the latest Council budget proposals show that Peterborough will still be subject to vicious cuts for years to come, writes Peterborough MP Lisa Forbes.

Public services across the board are being slashed further in pursuit of cutting costs. Peterborough City Council’s funding from the government has been cut by over 80% since 2013 despite the demand for services increasing year on year.

Now the Prime Minister has the cheek to tell the people of Peterborough that the cuts are coming to an end. I suggest that he read the council’s latest budget proposals before commenting further.

Despite a Council Tax increase of 4%, a huge number of vital services are being cut. The people of Peterborough are paying more, but getting less.

The Peterborough Community Assistance Scheme, known as PCAS, is one of the victims of this latest round of Tory austerity. It helps those in the city who are suffering from unexpected financial hardship in the form of food parcels, emergency bill payments, clothing banks and debt advice. With more and more people struggling to make ends meet, it is simply not right that the council will be cutting about £1.3m of funding from it in the next three years.

Meanwhile, youth services are another casualty. Often the first service that is cut, the city will be losing £1.5m of funding for one to one support, drop-in services and activities and clubs in communities across the city. These are services that we should be expanding and investing in, not cutting them back.

Despite Johnson’s bluster about cuts coming to an end, he is dealing in rhetoric not reality. Vital winter heating grants for the most vulnerable elderly people in our city are being scrapped and over 75 council workers could find themselves redundant in the near future. By any measure, how does this mean that ‘austerity is over’?

The reality is that council services are still being stripped back in pursuit of cutting costs, and our city is going to suffer for it.

Johnson and his government keep on playing political games in Westminster while hard-working people in this city are being subject to Council Tax rises and more swingeing cuts to services they rely on.

How are our local authorities meant to deliver vital services when their budgets have been drained by such a massive amount? The truth is that Peterborough City Council needs extra funding to ensure community assets are brought back for the benefit of everybody in the city.

Local government and local services cannot be effective when they are being bled dry by this Tory government. This city deserves better.

Labour will provide the investment our cash-strapped council needs to bring back funding for our youth services, our support networks for the vulnerable, our heating grants for the elderly, and our beloved NHS. Whatever Johnson may say, Labour is the only party who will stand up for Peterborough.