Isn’t it great when a politician tells the truth?
Tory local government minister Bob Neill admitted last night that the government’s public sector funding cuts will hit poor areas hardest.
The Daily Mail (yes, I know…) reports that when asked why poorer parts of the country were bearing the brunt of the £1.166bn cuts to local government funding, Neill replied: “Those in greatest need ultimately bear the burden of paying off the debt.”
So much for “we’re all in this together”. Some, it seems, are more “in this together” than others.
As a reminder, A Thousand Cuts showed yesterday how cuts in area based grants – aimed at areas such as education, unemployment and housing – would hit the poorest parts of the country.
Other local government funding cuts announced yesterday could have an added impact – David Blunkett warned that his Sheffield constituency could face overall cuts of 18%.
Meanwhile, The Times reports that Labour MP Frank Field, who is assisting the government on welfare reform, is considering scaling back child benefit by making it “age-related” – so it is no longer paid beyond the age of 13 – and taxing it to boot.
That suggestion will grab the headlines, but don’t ignore his idea for redefining child poverty. Rather than the current definition – 60% of median earnings – Field is thinking of a ‘life chances’ index measuring ‘parenting, school readiness – such as being able to hold a crayon or sit still – and progress through education’.
Quite apart from the added bureaucracy required to measure whether a child can hold a crayon (aren’t the Tories supposed to be cutting bureaucracy?), and the sheer absurdity of such ‘criteria’, it’s worth bearing in mind that if the government does change how it measures child poverty, it could become impossible to compare child poverty levels under the coalition compared to levels under Labour.
How very convenient.
Elsewhere, the Metropolitan Police has rescinded the applications of 2,000 new recruits who has passed the recruitment process.