Honiton councillor raises spending review concerns

Concerns have been raised over the Government’s spending review by Labour party member, Vernon Whitlock.

THE Chairman of Tiverton and Honiton Labour Party, Vernon Whitlock, has raised concerns over the Government’s spending review.

The cuts were announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, last Wednesday in a bid to tackle the budget deficit.

The Government plans to cut �81bn over a period of four years, with cuts made across departments and around 490,000 public sector jobs expected to be lost.

Mr Whitlock said: “With over 30 per cent of local employment in the public sector, cuts of 25 per cent in council funding will undoubtedly lead to many people losing their jobs.

“We are told that these will be replaced by jobs in the private sector, but there seems little scope of this happening locally, especially with cuts in housing provision and little money for economic investment.

“These cuts are unfair, with more being taken from children and those on benefits than from bankers.”

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In Mr Osborne’s speech to MPs, he also announced that the pension age would rise to 66 for both men and women, some incapacity benefits would be time limited and there would be changes to tax credits and housing benefits.

Mr Whitlock added: “Cutting so deeply and so rapidly will endanger growth and I am concerned that what we are seeing is the rolling back of the welfare state that has been the foundation of our fair society.

“We will be hearing from East Devon and Devon County Councils later in the year as they make difficult decisions as to what services and jobs they will be cutting.

“These will have an unequal effect on children, young people, the disabled and the most vulnerable in our communities. It is becoming clear that we are not all in this together.

“Whilst there is no doubt that we have to make savings, the severity of the ConDem government’s cuts are extreme, unequal, will stifle growth and will be challenged by the Labour Party.”

Neil Parish, the MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: “The Coalition Government was faced with tough choices and they did not shy away. We chose to prioritise the NHS, schools, security and the infrastructure to make our economy grow. To do so, we have cut welfare and waste.

“These cuts are unavoidable. Because of our decisive action on the deficit we will make cuts of 19 per cent for unprotected departments over four years.

“Fairness has been at the heart of the Coalition Government. That is why we are asking those with the broadest shoulders to contribute more toward this entire fiscal consolidation.”

l There will be an allocation of �2 billion a year of additional funding by 2014 to 2015 to social care.

Key benefits for older and vulnerable people including the winter fuel payments, free eye test, bus pass and TV licences will also be protected, with temporary increases to cold weather payments so eligible households receive �25 for each seven day cold spell.