Oral Question: Local Government Funding

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John Stevenson: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way so generously. In Cumbria we had the opportunity for a devolution deal. It did not happen. In Cumbria we had the opportunity to reduce the number of councils and councillors, which would have meant savings of around £25 million, which could have been spent on frontline services. The reason for the failure was Labour councils and Labour council leaders. Does the hon. Gentleman not think that was a failure of the Labour party?

Andrew Gwynne: Of course, the hon. Gentleman did not want to tell me where the £1.7 billion for the shortfall in children’s services was coming from. I know that in Cumbria there is a shortfall in funding for children’s services, as there is in every other county council in England. Every metropolitan district council in England and unitary councils across England are all saying the same thing. Perhaps he ought to speak up for Cumbria and get the extra money for Cumbria’s children’s services.

The result of the cuts has been appallingly clear. Cuts to early years intervention have meant a record number of children, some 72,000—let us stop and think about that—taken into care last year. The number of serious child protection cases has doubled in the last seven years, with 500 new cases launched every day. More than 170,000 children were subject to child protection plans last year—double the number seven years ago.

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