The global economic recession caused by the banking crisis heralded bad news, for families and public services.
My constituents are realistic. They told me: “We know it’s going to be tough, but what we want and expect is fairness in contributing to the solution.”
Unfortunately, on every count, it’s what they haven’t had from this government.
Since 2010 there have been 24 tax rises, not including the cuts to tax credits which have hit millions of working families.
The average household will be about £1,000 a year worse off by May 2015 than in May 2010. And, as wages have not kept pace with inflation, on average, they will be another £600 a year poorer.
By contrast, David Cameron and Nick Clegg chose to cut the 50p top rate of tax to 45p. Just 1 in 100 households will be significantly better off because they are enjoying a £3 billion tax cut. It meant that someone earning £1 million received a tax cut of more than £42,000 a year.
This shift in household income has been mirrored in the resources for public services where the poorest, urban, northern cities have been hammered at the expense of the wealthiest, rural, southern communities.
When you exclude the effects of the Better Care Fund – money that is being spent by the NHS this year, but for which the budget is switched to the council next year – the most deprived 10 per cent of areas in England are getting a 5.2 per cent cut in spending power, while the most affluent 10 per cent will get an increase of 1.5 per cent.
Sheffield is getting an 8.2 per cent cut in spending power and its Revenue Support Grant from the Government will be cut by £45 million, about 28 per cent. Since 2010, Sheffield has had its government grant cut by £226.40 per head, whereas wealthy Wokingham has lost £1.44.
The Government made much of the ‘extra £2bn for the NHS’ announcement last November, but kept stum about the distribution. Now we know that NHS Sheffield will get a 1.94 per cent increase in resources, but David Cameron’s Oxfordshire – where people are already healthier and live longer – will get 6.64 per cent. This is part of a plan which intends to shift £40m a year from Sheffield to Surrey health services.
On all of these issues, Nick Clegg has failed to stand up for Sheffield. That is unacceptable.