Politicians attack spending review

COUNCIL Leaders attacked the government following the Comprehensive Spending Review accusing them of betraying their principles and risking acute hardship.

COUNCIL Leaders attacked the government following the Comprehensive Spending Review accusing them of betraying their principles and risking acute hardship.

Muhammad Butt, deputy leader of Brent Council, warned of acute hardship for residents while bankers continue to receive big bonuses.

While Ann John, leader of Brent Council, singled out children and families minister, Sarah Teather MP, and the Lib Dems, for going back on election promises and giving politicians a bad name.

Ms Teather, MP for Brent Central, acknowledged difficult decisions had been made but said it showed the character of the government.

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She said: “We have done everything we can to protect frontline services, help the most disadvantaged and accelerate social mobility.

“Education is the engine of social mobility and the schools budget will now increase in real terms in each year of this government.”

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However, the Labour Councillors attacked the Lib Dems on education, in particular, for going back on the pledge to abolish tuition fees.

Cllr John said: “For years, they promised to abolish tuition fees; indeed it was the subject of Sarah Teather’s maiden speech. Now they are in favour of doubling tuition fees.”

She also rounded on them for increasing VAT to 20 per cent, scrapping universal child benefits and abolishing subsidised rents and secure tenures for council housing.

Cllr Butt said the review had threatened the economic recovery and with male unemployment in Brent Central at 8.2 per cent that figure could get worse.

He said cutting the school rebuilding programme will hit both the construction industry – the engine of economic recovery – and a generation of students.

He said: “Everyone agrees that the deficit needs to be reduced but it is a question of how quickly that it is done. Before the election the Liberal Democrats agreed with us that cutting too fast too soon would damage the recovery – that speed kills.”

Glenda Jackson, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, wanted to know exactly how the cuts would affect ordinary folk and the vulnerable.

She also accused the chancellor, George Osborne, of misleading the public over increases to the NHS and schools saying that with inflation taken into consideration the rise in funding would be negligible.

She said: “As always, despite claiming that ‘we are all in this together’, it is the most vulnerable in our society who will be suffering the most under this government.”

However, Cllr Paul Lorber, leader of the Lib dems, blamed the whole ‘mess’ on the former Labour government.

Admitting ‘there will be difficult times ahead in many households and communities’, he said the ‘reductions in public spending were as fair as possible’.

Looking at the positives, he said councils will have more freedom to spend budgets as they see fit and 900,000 low earners will not have to pay tax anymore.

He said: “In difficult times I’m glad the Liberal democrats are at the heart of Government ensuring as much fairness as possible.”

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