Labour says Tory county cuts will harm the economy

Lancashire Labour Group has criticised the Tory controlled administration at Lancashire County Council for abandoning it's support of business in an uncertain economic climate.

County Hall, Preston
County Hall, Preston

Portfolio holder for Economic Development, Coun. Julie Gibson, said: "The recently released budget proposals show this administration 'running away' from supporting the businesses of Lancashire and, by extension, the Lancashire economy in favour of sitting on the sidelines and waiting to see what happens.

“One of the proposals in the budget papers is to decrease contributions to Marketing Lancashire, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and Lancashire Growth Hub – all key partners to building and securing a strong Lancashire economy.

At a time when there is uncertainty over Brexit and the effect on the Lancashire economy is not known, it doesn’t make sense to be withdrawing from these bodies. The Conservatives hope that the cash strapped borough and city councils will cover the costs, but without consulting them.”

Coun. Gibson also raised concern over proposals to cut the Lancashire Welfare Rights Service.

She said: “Having previously worked within a welfare rights setting, I know what an important role services such as this play in helping to support the local economy. This is because money won back in successful benefit appeals is spent in the local economy because people receiving increased income do spend it locally.

The budget proposal highlights the need to rely on the voluntary, community and charity sector to pick up vulnerable people using the services. This sector has been under pressure for years with cuts to grant funding and it is questionable as to whether it has the infrastructure to do this. People will fall through the net and the local economy will suffer.”

Coun. Gibson concluded: “These budget proposals will have detrimental effect on the lancashire economy. We urge people to respond to the consultation and make their voices heard. The Lancashire Labour Group will be calling on the Tory administration to re-think these cuts and stop, what will be, a devastating impact on the people of Lancashire.”

These proposals were supposed to be discussed at the Cabinet meeting on December 3rd but the Conservative leader Cpun. Jeff Driver, supported by his Cabinet, suspended the meeting. When the meeting was reconvened the Conservatives moved the £77m. pounds of cuts without any further debate.