Homelessness, food bank use and council tax on the rise in Hartlepool due to 'devastating' cuts, say councillors

Food bank use, homelessness and council tax are all on the rise due to Government fundings cuts, a meeting has heard – with calls for more support and an easing of austerity measures.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 4:45 pm

A motion from Labour Party councillors to a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council stated ‘devastating cuts’ handed down from central government since 2010 have been shouldered on the most vulnerable people in the town.

Councillors claimed the cuts have led to depleted local authority reserves, along with increases in mental health issues, council tax, food bank use, household debt and more.

The motion to call for more funding and lobby the minister for Local Government following the upcoming General Election was unanimously supported by councillors.

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Coun Amy Prince said: “This isn’t a Labour versus anybody else thing, this is we’ve all been elected to do the same job and we all know the problems that we are facing.

“These devastating cuts that are being implemented by central government through austerity measures since 2010 have been shouldered on the most vulnerable and working people in our town.”

Coun Prince noted the council has had its funding from central government cut by 45% since 2013/14, around £20million.

She said: “That 45% in Hartlepool is the equivalent of 740 social workers, 550 teachers, 1,000 youth workers or 1,100 bin men, it’s just astonishing.”

Coun Paddy Brown, seconding the motion, noted areas such as Hartlepool, which has seen a 77% increase in the number of looked after children, are most badly impacted by government funding cuts.

Council leader Coun Shane Moore, Brexit Party representative, noted although the council did receive an increase in government funding this year, previous years of cuts has led to some of the town’s problems.

He said: “I fully appreciate the sentiment behind this motion, we can’t get away from the fact a lot of the problems this town faces has been due to government cuts.

“I don’t think it’s true to say all of our ills are based on them, a lot of them are more deep rooted and historic.”

The Socialst Labour Party’s Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher warned it is down to councillors to be proactive in trying to find solutions to tackle the difficulties.

He said: “It’s all well and good sitting here and preaching about the problems we have, but all of us elected have a collective responsibility.

“We should be all working together to come up with solutions and if we can’t come up with solutions then it’s going to be a very difficult decision to make ahead of us.”

Councillors also urged the importance of making sure that they attend all meetings discussing budget pressures to do the best for the town.