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  1. ITV Report

Faith and council leaders talk Government cuts

Faith and council leaders from England's biggest cities met in Liverpool today to discuss how to tackle Government cuts.

The event, entitled "Come Together", is being led by Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones.

Bishop Jones highlighted the issue in the House of Lords before Christmas when he described the cuts as "draconian".

The summit was told today that the Bishop intends to lead a high-profile delegation of faith leaders to the Government next week to put forward the arguments for fairness.

Mayor Anderson said: "These are the toughest times ever for local government, with unprecedented reductions in funding which will change forever the way in which we deliver services. Nobody will be left untouched by the scale of cuts.

"Big cities have been hit the hardest, and in Liverpool we have lost more than half of our controllable government grant spending. By 2017 we estimate we will have lost £89 million a year since 2010.

"Those who say we should just not implement the cuts fail to realise that we have no choice, as the Government will come in and do it for us - without applying the compassion or the fairness that we can."

He added: "However, we have a duty to our residents to protest to the Government in the strongest possible terms about the impact their cuts are having here and across the rest of the country, and get them to sit up and take notice.

"We are demanding the Government listens, not just to the politicians, but to our faith representatives who witness the damage being done in our communities every day as a result of the cuts, and that they take notice of the dire situation we are in."

The conference is being attended by representatives of other major UK cities, including Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

There will also be the launch of a parliamentary e-petition calling for a debate in the House of Commons urging the Government to urgently rethink its policy, and to apply the cuts more fairly across the country.

During a visit to Liverpool earlier this month, Prime Minister David Cameron played down Mayor Anderson's concerns about a summer of discontent due to cuts.

Mr Cameron said: "Obviously, I don't agree with the mayor about that. What we are asking Liverpool to do is to have the same level of funding in cash terms that it had in 2010/2011."

Mayor Anderson wrote to Mr Cameron following the visit, challenging his figures as "incorrect".