Halton MP Derek Twigg has today written a joint letter with the Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury to Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government regarding the severe and punishing funding cuts levelled on Halton by government since 2010. This follows the Local Government Finance Settlement statement in the House of Commons yesterday, when the Secretary of State suggested 'restructuring' as an answer to the serious concerns Derek raised about Halton's government funding. You can watch the exchange here.
The Halton Parliamentary Constituency is made up of Widnes, West Runcorn & Hale Village. The Weaver Vale Parliamentary Constituency includes East Runcorn.
Dear Mr Javid,
Response to questions raised in House of Commons 19th December 2017
We were hugely concerned to hear your response to Halton Council’s dire financial situation during the Local Government Finance Statement on 19th December 2017.
Neither of us made any mention of council restructuring and there is absolutely no will locally to see Halton Council abolished, which seems to be what you were suggesting. This certainly does not fit in with your government’s “localism” agenda! Why should a council like Halton be restructured out of existence? A council that is one of the most successful councils in the country, having played a pivotal role in delivering major improvements to the Borough since it came into existence in 1974. This is a local authority that has just delivered a huge £billion infrastructure project, the Mersey Gateway, on time and to budget.
You appear to have used your response to avoid addressing what is the fundamental problem - your Government is massively underfunding local government. You have forced Councils like Halton into making huge cuts to local services. Halton has had its funding cut by over 60% since 2010 and will have faced cuts of £63m by 2020. If the current underfunding continues then Halton will struggle to be able to meet its statutory obligations for Adult Social Care and Children’s Services. Your announcement yesterday, allowing council’s to raise more from council tax locally, will not be anywhere near enough to address the funding problems Halton faces and will only put a greater burden on local people, who live in one of the most socially deprived boroughs in England. Additionally, Halton does not get any great benefit from the changes to business rates because of its low base.
There is absolutely no appetite locally to see Halton merged with or swallowed up by a larger neighbouring local authority. We should be about extending democracy not diminishing it. What is needed is a sustainable funding plan for the future of local government from central government. A plan that halts and starts to reverse cuts to funding, so that councils can deliver the local services that ensure the needs of their local population are met.
We would request a meeting with you to discuss Halton’s financial position and the pressure it is facing, especially in Adult Social Care and Children’s Services. We look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Derek Twigg MP – Halton
Mike Amesbury MP – Weaver Vale