Reader column: Sheffield hit hard by cuts – is that fair?

Clive Betts
Clive Betts
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Between 1997 and 2008 levels of Government borrowing fell as a proportion of the country’s income. Then the worldwide banking crisis caused a recession which sharply reduced income from taxes and increased the deficit.

Despite austerity measures the Government is still borrowing over £100bn a year having failed as promised to balance the books in this Parliament.

I want to address how fair the cuts are to the people I represent in Sheffield.

Firstly to reduce borrowing taxes have been increased. Most would agree that those with the most should have their taxes increased the most. Is it fair that as working families struggle with the rising cost of living, millionaires’ income tax is cut and the bankers who caused the crisis get bonuses without any extra tax being levied on them?

Most of the effort to reduce borrowing has been by cutting spending. Has this been done fairly?

Is it fair that grants to councils have been cut more than twice as much as other spending? Are important services such as help for the elderly and disabled, refuse collection, parks, libraries, sport facilities, and subsidies for buses and trams less important than anything else government does?

I know from listening to constituents that they feel it’s unfair that the elderly and disabled have received the largest cuts. Perhaps it’s because ministers find it easier to pass responsibility for the cuts onto councils rather than doing them themselves.

Finally, there is the issue of whether cuts have been applied fairly. Is it fair that in this Parliament Government will cut the grant to Sheffield Council by half, with more cuts planned after the election? The Prime Minister says “we’re all in this together”, but his local authority of West Oxfordshire, one of the country’s least deprived areas, gets an increase in spending of 3.1 per cent in 2013/14.

By 2017 the government plans that Sheffield Council will have less to spend on services than affluent Wokingham. This isn’t right or fair.

As a Sheffield MP it’s my job to fight for a fairer deal for Sheffield. I would like to think the other MPs in the city will be doing the same. I know most of them are.