As we have heard in the accounts given by many of my hon. Friends today, for many communities in this country local government funding is a matter of life and death—a matter of keeping vital services open and making sure that the most vulnerable people in our society are given the protection and support they need to survive. That is the scale of the crisis afflicting our local authorities—a crisis that we know hits the poorest the hardest.
Nine of the 10 most deprived councils in England face cuts that are higher than the national average. All nine are Labour controlled. Seven of the 10 areas facing the smallest cuts to spending power per household are Conservative controlled. Is it not telling that after nine years of savage cuts to local government, fraying the very fabric of our society, the Tory party is campaigning in the upcoming local elections on its record on road maintenance? The Conservatives boast proudly of “A few less bumps in the road”. Consider that for a moment. Local authorities are housing 79,000 homeless families in temporary accommodation, including more than 120,000 children; last year saw the biggest annual increase in children in care since 2010, and councils start 500 child protection investigations every day—but the Tories want to talk about fixing potholes.
We have now seen almost a decade of deprivation engineered by Tories in Westminster. The Conservative party proudly talks of its record on fixing bumps in the road while our communities are starved of spending and our services are cut to the bone. What an insult to the dementia patient who cannot access adequate social care, to the family who cannot find themselves a home or to the schoolchildren sent home early for a lack of funding. Does that not sum up the warped priorities of this failing Government?
I commend the Labour councils across the country, which are doing their best to stand up for our communities in the teeth of savage Tory cuts. Voters face a blunt choice in the upcoming local elections between those who want to destroy our communities and those who want to rebuild them for the many.