This week in Westminster, the Government finally agreed to address a growing crisis that is placing a massive strain on local services in Rochdale.
Since 2012, under the Liberal Democrat & Conservative Government, the number of asylum seekers in our town has gone from 371 to 1,044.
The increase began when private firms were handed the contract to distribute asylum seekers among local authorities, with financial incentives to find the cheapest accomodation.
Of course, the people of Rochdale do not mind doing their fair share when it comes to helping vulnerable people. But when we consider that Prime Minister David Cameron’s home council in West Oxfordshire does not care for a single asylum seeker, we can quickly see that the current system is unfair and unsustainable.
This is not an isolated example, their are vast swathes of Southern England where Conservative run councils have not taken responsibility for a single asylum seeker.
To make matters worse it is the areas with the most asylum seekers which have been hit hardest by the Government’s cuts.
According to research carried out by my office Rochdale Council’s spending power will fall by 7% by 2018. By contract in West Oxfordshire it will increase by 1%.
The figures speak for themselves. The Conservative Government is protecting Conservative Councils from the worst of the cuts and allowing them to shirk their responsibility to take in asylum seekers.
This is partisan politics at its very worst but until recently the Government’s Immigration Minister James Brokenshire has refused to address my concerns.
Refusing to give up on the issue, this week I led a Parliamentary debate urging the Government to overhaul a grossly unjust system which expects those with the least to do the most.
It was refreshing to hear Mr Brokenshire admit that the system does need to be reformed and he has agreed to meet with me to discuss steps to alleviate some of the pressure on our town.
This problem is not going away and I will continue to fight for a fairer deal for Rochdale.