Earlier this week, along with my colleague Derek Twigg MP, I met with Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak MP to discuss the need for better funding for Halton Council. Like many councils, including Cheshire West and Chester, Halton is facing a funding crisis that is having serious consequences for the provision of services. Tory government funding reductions have meant that Halton has had to make cuts of over 60% in its budget since 2010.
The Minister said he found the meeting very useful and listened carefully to the key point made by Derek and myself that Halton faced particular pressures given it's relatively small size, and relative challenges around economic and social deprivation compared with some other areas of the country.
We were pleased that he confirmed there were no plans to force a council restructure, despite a concerning statement by Sajid Javid in December.
However, the government need to urgently provide fair funding from the Treasury to councils like Halton instead of continually shifting responsibility onto local council tax payers. They also need to give local government workers the pay rise they deserve and desperately need. It's welcome that the Minister met us to discuss the issue - but residents, councils, and staff will judge him on actions not word.