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Corbyn savages May over council cuts on eve of local elections

JEREMY CORBYN launched a blistering attack on the government ahead of tomorrow’s local elections by warning voters that they will “pay more to get less” under the Tories.

Voters will head to the polls throughout the course of today in 150 council areas in England. There are also six mayoral contests.

The Labour leader used Prime Minister’s Questions today to recite a laundry list of problems affecting local authorities that have seen budgets almost halved since 2010.

He described the government’s record on Britain’s economy as a “failure” and said that Ms May was “in denial” over the “damaging” effects of funding cuts on schools.

And he trashed Ms May’s claim that people pay less council tax under the Tories as he pointed to rises of more than 5 per cent across the country.

Mr Corbyn added that violent and fatal crime rates were at their highest in cities like London because there are now around 21,000 fewer police officers and 6,000 fewer community support officers compared to eight years ago.

In his fierce closing speech in the Commons, Mr Corbyn said: “The economy is slowing, homelessness is rising, more children are living in poverty, the Home Office is in chaos and the government is making a complete shambles of Brexit negotiations.

“They’re damaging our NHS, damaging our children’s schools, cutting police as crime soars and they claim to be strong and stable.

“With council tax rising by more than 5 per cent all over the country, isn’t the truth facing voters tomorrow that with the Tories you pay more and you get less?”

Ms May said that there was extra funding for the NHS, schools and social care before claiming “Conservative councils cost you less.”

She resorted to comparing the council tax rates for residents of one street in south London that is covered by two authorities – one is Labour-run Lambeth, the other being Tory-run Wandsworth, which historically has had the lowest average council tax in England since being the first to outsource local services in the 1980s.

Mr Corbyn also said: “The government is damaging public services. In January, the Education Secretary [Damian Hinds] promised that no school would see a cut in its funding.

“Last week he was invited to repeat that pledge and refused. I wonder why?

“Will the Prime Minister now tell parents, teachers and students the truth that the schools budget has in fact been cut in real terms all over the country?”

Ms May huffed that he was “wrong” and said the government was “ensuring that there is more money available to schools.”

Meanwhile, a report by medical publication Pulse Magazine suggests that nine out of 10 councils have reduced spending on sexual health, alcohol misuse and weight management services this year because of budget cuts.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said yesterday that the findings are “not unexpected” in light of local authorities having to make “difficult decisions on key services, including stopping them altogether.”

The government has reduced public health funding by £600 million from 2015/16 to 2019/20, and this has a domino effect on the NHS and adult social care, she added.

The LGA in December warned that councils that have already experienced unprecedented funding cuts since 2010 will see their central government funding cut by another £2.7 billion between 2018/19 and 2019/20 – a further reduction of 54 per cent.

 

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