MORE power for Great Manchester could amount to little more than “devolved austerity” for Rochdale unless Government cuts are reversed, MP Simon Danczuk has said.
Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on Local Government Funding, Mr Danczuk argued that Rochdale “needs and deserves a better funding regime”.
Central Government cuts mean that Rochdale Council will have to make a £40 million reduction in its budget over the next two years.
On top of that, council officials will now have to plan for a further 4.5% cut in spending powers following the recent “Local Government Settlement”. That is compared to an average cut of 2.8% across England.
Rochdale has consistently been among the top three councils in the country hardest-hit by Government cuts since 2010.
The latest reductions come at a time when Rochdale Council is being asked to take on more responsibility as part of the Great Manchester devolution deal.
Mr Danczuk said: “Local authorities have faced enormous cuts to their budgets while receiving an ever-increasing workload.
“Rather than power, the only thing that seems to have been devolved is austerity.
“£8 out of every £10 in Rochdale is spent on children, the elderly and the disabled. The cuts to our budget will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable people in our town.
“I do not say this lightly, but Rochdale is one of the most deprived communities in the United Kingdom. Unemployment is higher than the national average. People in the town are earning £635 less per year than they were in 2010.”
Mr Danczuk also raise concerns about new Government policies which will allow local authorities to keep more of the money raised through council tax and business rates.
The MP said: “ I welcome the concept but there is an added problem, because these measures are just scraping the surface in terms of the problems facing local government. The measures will disproportionately benefit wealthy areas.
“Rochdale does not have the ability to generate the same level of resources locally for the services the area requires compared with councils with a higher tax base.
“A one-size-fits-all policy will not deal with the issues that we need to tackle: health, education, jobs and local regeneration.
“Rochdale needs and deserves a better funding regime than this Government are currently creating.”