Greater Manchester’s most senior politician has responded to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement by warning that public services will not be able to cope with the major cuts George Osborne is planning to impose.
Whilst welcoming the announcement on NHS funding, with £2bn extra set to go to the service each year, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said it should not come at the expense of other services.
“While it’s good news that the NHS is getting much-needed investment, the reality is that the Chancellor is robbing Peter to pay Paul. When other public services are facing deeper and deeper cuts, this is putting extra strain on our already stretched services, which will increase demand on the NHS anyway, so it is a vicious circle. This simply isn’t sustainable and the Chancellor needs to listen, not just to me, but to local people who are the real victims of these spending cuts.
“Whilst we all have a part to play in reducing the deficit, the Chancellor seems to want to do it on the backs of the poor.”
In his statement George Osborne said that there will be further substantial cuts in public spending over the next parliament, with £15bn being slashed from public services. Independent research published yesterday shows that policing budgets could be cut by another fifth over the next five years.
Tony added: “We have faced up to the financial challenge by transforming how we do policing, such as the development of neighbourhood policing and pooling resources with other agencies, to make the savings and ultimately provide a better service to the public. But our police has been cut and cut again. They cannot be made victims of George Osborne’s failure, the money is running out – and it’s ordinary hardworking people who will suffer. Despite the Chancellor’s claim that crime is falling, we all know that it’s going up – an inevitable consequence of cutting thousands of police officers from our streets.”
Tony welcomed the moves towards devolution for Greater Manchester, but called on the government to put more power and money into the hands of the people.
He added: “Devolution is great news for Greater Manchester and actually shows how all parties, both nationally and locally, can work together for the benefit of local people.
“But I think we need to go further. There’s currently a democratic deficit in the North of England which will not be wholly resolved either by devolution to Greater Manchester or the ‘English votes for English laws’ call. That’s an easy slogan, but it doesn’t resolve the problem of politics being so remote from ordinary people.
“Devolution for Greater Manchester is a great first step to reconnecting people with politics, but we need to do more to ensure that the voice of Greater Manchester and the North of England is heard.”