Ashfield MP slams Government’s Stronger Towns Fund as ‘insulting’

Gloria De Piero MP
Gloria De Piero MP

Much has been said already about the funding Theresa May has offered to help towns in particularly the Midlands and the north, writes Gloria De Piero MP.

However, I wanted to explain just why this Stronger Towns Fund is such an inadequate solution for the problems caused by the austerity programme inflicted on us by this Government.

In short, local Government funding has been cut by a total of £7.3 billion since the Tories came to power in 2010.

That means that the new fund that has been announced is around £5.7 billion short of the total needed to fill the funding gap and is £405 million short of the damage caused to the East Midlands alone.

When you compare that figure with the data that shows that austerity has taken £3,600 out of every household over the past nine years, the inadequacy is startling.

It is clear that this cash is not going to re-open children’s centres, fund much-needed social care places or allow day centres to resume their valuable work.

Furthermore, this fund goes nowhere near matching the amount that regions have received from the EU over the last seven years, when.

Quite frankly, the offer is an insult to the residents who have had to bear the brunt of the effects of the cuts councils have been forced to make to balance the books.

It will do almost nothing to reverse the damage these cuts have caused and this fund is just a shallow and pathetic effort to win political support for the Prime Minister’s terrible job at negotiating a Brexit deal.

Speaking to constituents recently, I was struck by how much value Ashfield residents place on apprenticeships.

I have long been an advocate of apprenticeships as a way of getting on in a good career by being paid to train.

However, there is a real shortage in good quality apprenticeships in the area right now.

Just over half apprenticeship starts in 2017-18 in Ashfield were at level three or above, compared to 55 per cent in the East Midlands overall.

That means a worker’s earning potential and chance of getting on in life is lower than it should be and that has to change.