Derek has strongly criticised the effects of the Coalition Government's current and future spending cuts as 'unfairly disproportionate' after BBC-commissioned research confirmed that there is a strong north-south divide in terms of the resilience of regions across England to economic change and reductions in public spending.
Research published last week by the company Experian found that areas of the North West including Merseyside will be joined with areas of the Midlands, South & West Yorkshire and the North East in suffering a disproportionately adverse effect from the Coalition's cuts in public spending.
Halton joins Liverpool, Knowsley, St. Helens and the Wirral in the top fifty local authority areas most vulnerable to sudden changes in the economy, including the withdrawal of State investment in public services. Several other areas of the North West are among the twenty fiive that will be worst affected by the cuts planned by the Coalition Government, with Burnley and Barrow-in-Furness in the top ten, whilst St. Albans in Hertfordshire and parts of Surrey in the South East will be least adversley affected.
Halton is the ninth most vulnerable local authority area in terms of the impact on 'community' as a whole, unable to deal resiliently with the challenges of high unemployment, reduced disposable income and rates of business insolvency. The Experian research also looked at the impact on localities in terms of 'people', 'place', and 'businesses', analysing a number of factors including the amount of vulnerable and resilient industry with an area, the life expectancy of residents, workers' earnings, unemployment and crime rates.
The overall rankings placed Halton as the 41st most vulnerable area within England.
"These findings are welcome as they are dismaying and unsurprising in confirming what we already knew - that there is indeed a gaping north-south divide in terms of the capacity of different areas of England to withstand economic changes, notably in State support in public services.
The people of Halton and wider Mersey region will never forget their treatment at the hands of the Conservative Governments in the Eighties and Nineties, whose harsh economic and social policies led to higher rates of unemployment, deprivation and crime. Everybody understands that the public debt - which necessarily increased to prevent recession becoming depression - needs to be reduced, but this should be done fairly with due consideration to the varying scale of the challenges facing different areas of the country.
Yet to target traditionally deprived areas in northern England such as Halton, leaving them ill-equipped and exposed to the harsh cuts in the public sector upon which these areas disproportionately rely, makes a mockery of the Coalition's supposed claim that 'we're all in this together'. Rather, it is clear that the Coalition is bent on reversing Labour's investment in Halton which did so much to improve local public services abdandoned by the previous Conservative Government.
My fellow Labour MPs and I will be listening very carefully to Chancellor George Osborne's announcement of his Spending Review on 20th October, to see where and how evenly his axe cutting falls. Along with employees and employers and public service users and deliverers alike, we are waiting with bated breath for this key announcement determining Britain's economic future and social fabric."
The BBC commissioned the research as part of 'The Spending Review: Making it Clear' season, which looks at the Government's plans to make deep public sector savings to be revealed in The Spending Review announcement on Wednesday 20th October.