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My right hon. Friend makes a very important point and he is absolutely right to seek such a review. We have seen the pressures on the ambulance service in some frightening cases, including the case raised recently by my hon. Friend Louise Haigh on the Floor of the House in terms of response times. My right hon. Friend is right to highlight the combination of problems and pressures that have been created.
My right hon. Friend tried to pin the Minister down on funding levels. Judging by the Minister’s response, I am sure that he is going to argue that a rise in the precept to offset proposed cuts in grants will compensate the South Yorkshire force for the £2.5 million loss in funding we face in this settlement. That, however, is disingenuous and the Minister knows it. Even putting aside the political double dealing of forcing local tax increases to fund national tax cuts for those who do not need them, flat cash funding is not real protection for police budgets. He knows that is the case. To meet the increase in wages and other pressures in South Yorkshire, we will still be seeing cuts of about £7 million to the local force. Local residents are being asked to pay more for a further decline in services.
We have seen what short-sighted policies have done to our prison service, with the Government now scrambling to overcome the problems that they have created. Surely we cannot let that happen to our police service, too. We need the Government to recognise the scale of the problem, to recognise that the settlement does not address it and to persuade the Chancellor to take action before it is too late.