NEWS THIS WEEK – from Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington
22 Feb 2017Police: These further cuts will simply apply more pressure on an already overstretched service
The head of London's Metropolitan Police Bernard Hogan-Howe issued a clear warning on cuts to the Met’s Home Office grant last week, further emphasising that the Tories’ police cuts are starting to bite.
When the most senior officer in the country warns that the Tories’ cuts to the police budgets are dangerous, we should all take note. But ministers arrogantly persist in claiming to have protected spending.
The substantial reductions to police budgets since 2010 already pose a threat to public safety, now these further cuts will simply apply more pressure on an already overstretched police service.
As I have argued in the media and in the House, Labour will be pushing ministers keep the promise they made and protect police spending.
Social care: Government must come forward with immediate funding and sustainable vision
Time and time again, this Government has ignored warnings of the social care crisis, from health, social care and local government experts and from MPs across the political spectrum.
The latest Local Government Finance Settlement is no different to what’s come before.
As my colleague Teresa Pearce, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, put it “It is all smoke and mirrors – pushing numbers around but not offering any new money. Shifting the burden on to council tax payers creates a postcode lottery in social care services. Wealthy areas will prosper whilst poorer communities will struggle. This was made clear by the revelation of the sweetheart deal offered to Surrey County Council behind closed doors, whilst the rest of the country suffers.”
The brutal cuts handed down by this Tory government will leave local councils facing a £5.8billion funding gap in just two years’ time. Libraries, youth centres and Sure Start centres have closed. Child protection services are creaking. Frail elderly people and vulnerable disabled people are being left lonely and isolated.
This is a crisis made in Westminster but, as per usual, the Tories are pushing the blame on to councils, communities, carers and families.
In the forthcoming budget, the Government must come forward with immediate funding, as well as a long-term, sustainable and strategic vision for social care.
NHS trusts are already in a deficit of £886m
Figures released this week show NHS trusts are already in a deficit of £886m and yet still the Prime Minister is burying her head in the sand when it comes to the extent of the NHS crisis.
Theresa May’s sustained underfunding of the NHS is stretching the finances of NHS hospitals beyond their limits. Even with the £1.8bn that was set aside in the ‘financial reset’ last summer hospitals have already run up a deficit of £886m this year. It will take a heroic effort by NHS staff to meet even the predicted year-end target in the face of chronic neglect by the Government.
The Government needs to be honest about what this crisis means for patient care. It means cuts to frontline staff, longer waits for treatment and services at risk of closure. The money which had been set aside for NHS transformation funding, which should be improving services and bringing the deficit down in future, has instead had to be used to manage this year’s figures.
Ministers are in denial, but the staggering decline in the NHS’s financial performance is a direct result of decisions they made. Cuts to social care have driven up hospital attendances while the Government’s inept workforce planning has forced hospitals to drain resources on expensive agency staff.
The Government urgently need to provide a long-term, sustainable financial package to guarantee the NHS services which patients need for the future.
Labour will deliver a real living wage so that every worker earns enough to really live
Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, responded strongly this week to the release of the list of employers who have failed to pay the national minimum and living wage, saying “It is frankly disgraceful that a record number of employers have failed to pay their workers the basic minimum wage and hopefully the repercussions of being publicly named and shamed will act as a deterrent for other unscrupulous employers. However, the fact remains that the current so-called National Living Wage is that in name only. The Chancellor even announced a cut in the rate at the Autumn Statement last year, leaving 2.7 million people over £1,300 worse off by 2020.”
Crippling cuts have demoralised and damaged the capacity of child protection services to protect vulnerable children
As Shadow Home Secretary this week I issued the following Press Release commenting on the Government’s announcement of measures to protect children and young people from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking:
“This Government’s hypocrisy is startling. Councils will face a £1.9 billion funding gap in children’s services by 2020 and whilst this £40 million injection is welcome, it barely scratches the surface.
“The reality is that the crippling cuts have demoralised and damaged the capacity of child protection services to protect vulnerable children.
“Coupled with the shambolic handling of the Inquiry into Historic Child Sex Abuse, the treatment of the victims of child sex abuse and vulnerable children is inadequate and irresponsible.
“We must ensure children are safe and it is unclear how the Government can prove they take this task seriously with their planned £1.9 billion funding gap.”
I recently met with Public Affairs team from the Royal Mail to discuss the decision to franchise the post offices in Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, Finsbury Park and Dalston Kingsland.
I expressed my strong concerns to them and have asked Royal Mail to ensure current services will not be lost.
We now need to feed into the consultation process and loudly saw we need to protect our services.
Stoke Newington Fire Station Visit and Opposing the Tory Cuts to Our Fire and Rescue Service
I was pleased to recently visit Stoke Newington Fire Station on Church Street, one of the oldest in the borough, meeting with the brave fire fighters who have served our borough for many years. After watching a practice drill, I met with them to discuss service pressures and morale, as they cope with ongoing Tory austerity.
The government has quietly shut the door on vulnerable child refugees
The government has tried to halt the Dubs Amendment, a scheme designed to save thousands of vulnerable child refugees, but Labour will continue to hold the Government to account.
Labour commits to meeting the obligations of the Dubs Amendment and will restore the scheme and accept some of the most vulnerable children in the world.
You can read by full article on the issue at http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2017/02/government-has-quietly-shut-door-vulnerable-child-refugees