The financing of local authorities and local government has caused problems for many Governments over the years. It arises from the fact that parts of the country with a lot of businesses or a lot of rich people are able to raise quite a lot of money locally for some of the services that have to be provided. However, there are many constituencies and many parts of the country where that is not the case, where there are issues of deprivation and where there are issues that require money, and where local authorities are unable to raise the money from their constituents or from the local area. When national Governments decide how much money to give to different areas, it is therefore important that those issues are properly considered and addressed.
My constituency of Bolton South East is high up on the indices that judge poverty and health and education issues. The mortality rate is higher in my constituency than in the rest of the country. The number of people with a university degree is not in proportion with the rest of the country. The number of people who own their home is not equivalent to the rest of the country. On many issues and in many areas, the local council is not able to fulfil its obligations.
Having said all that, Bolton Council has been run by Labour for many years, and it is regarded as an incredibly sensible and financially prudent council—it has even received four-star ratings in the past. Despite that, there has been a 54% cut to Government funding since 2010. Those cuts are not acceptable. My local council is basically spending all its resources on its statutory obligations such as social care and services for the elderly and the young, including children in care, looked-after children and protected children.