After the combined efforts of a Labour-led revolt in the House of Lords and Labour campaigners in Blackpool, the Tory Government have been forced to make two major U-turns in their Spending Review – U-turns that Gordon said will be of huge relief to local people.
Gordon, who twice in three weeks challenged the Prime Minister on cuts to policing at PMQs, explained the Chancellor’s decision to backtrack on further cuts to the Police, as well as the decision to scrap the cuts to the tax credits were a testament to the sustained lobbying from campaigners across Blackpool and elsewhere.
Commenting on the tax credit announcement he said: “From my conversations with our Labour Party members and community activists who came to our street stall in St John’s Square to sign our petition, I thank them all for their sustained pressure and the Chancellor’s announcement yesterday showed it paid off. Over 11,000 working families across Blackpool will be feeling a huge sigh of relief to find their tax credits will now not be taken away.”
However Gordon warned that people on low incomes in Blackpool were not “out of the woods yet” with cuts to come elsewhere – potentially those in receipt of Universal Credit.
The second major concession of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement came in the announcement to freeze any further cuts to policing, an issue Gordon, the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Lancashire and local Neighbourhood Watch groups across Blackpool have raised.
Gordon, who last week asked the Prime Minister to think again on the cuts in light of the recent events in Paris said: “It would have been reckless to cut the police budget even further, especially given that neighbourhood policing and local intelligence can be crucial in the fight against terrorism - it was a no brainer to not go ahead with more damaging cuts.
“Like the change in direction on tax credits, this comes on the back of a strong campaign mounted by Lancashire MPs, our Police and Crime Commissioner and local Neighbourhood watch groups such as the initiative in Brunswick and Talbot.”
Despite yesterday’s backtracks by the Chancellor, Gordon criticised the announcements around social care and business rates saying they will “not compensate for the huge loss in funding from central Government”.
“The ability to raise two per cent extra from council tax won’t begin to address the black hole in social care from Government funding, but it could let the Government off the hook of doing anything to fund social care further,” he explained.
“For Blackpool and other councils, to keep, not set business rates will mean councils in poorer areas like ours won’t get anywhere near enough to compensate for the total withdrawal of Government funding after five years. This is compared to rich Tory councils like Westminster or Kensington and Chelsea, who can take in billions in rates with far fewer social problems to cover in their spending.”