Chancellor Philip Hammond had a simple choice in his Budget this year. He could have shown he understands the situation facing Rother Valley and the rest of the country.
Instead, I feel this Conservative Government has turned its back on the vulnerable children living in our area and councils are struggling to cope.
Government funding for the Early Intervention Grant has been cut by almost £500 million since 2013, and is projected to drop by a further £183 million by 2020.
Without this funding, councils have found it increasingly difficult to invest in the early help services that can prevent children entering the social care system, and help to manage needs within families to avoid them escalating. Despite this, the Tories are continuing the reductions in the ‘bank levy’.
This was the special tax imposed on the banks after they crashed the global economy in 2008, but Tory reductions will mean billions will be given away to the banks.
In my view this was a Budget from an out-of-touch Government with no idea of the reality of people’s lives in Rother Valley and no plan to improve them.
It has simply handed more tax giveaways to banks and big business.
We, as a country, simply cannot go on like this.
We need a Labour Government to provide proper investment in local government and children’s services.
We also need a new national rough sleeping strategy to effectively end rough sleeping.
While the number of people sleeping rough fell by three quarters from 1997-2010, it has doubled since 2010, and has risen by 50 per cent in the last two years in England.
These figures are a terrible reminder of the consequences of seven years of failure on housing.
I believe the Government should be setting out how it will end rough sleeping, starting by doubling the number of homes reserved for people who have slept on the streets.
Instead, the Housing White Paper, published in February, contains unconvincing measures that will do nothing to reverse seven years of failure on housing.
At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that pledged a new national plan to end rough sleeping within this Parliament, starting by making 4,000 additional homes reserved for people with a history of rough sleeping.