In Stoke-on-Trent we know all too well what happens to children’s and educational services when central government fails to fund them properly.
Only this year we have seen head teachers from Stoke-on-Trent give compelling and damning first-hand accounts about how they are struggling to keep schools afloat and teachers employed because of insufficient funding. Then there was the shocking Ofsted report that delivered the shocking news that vulnerable children were being put at risk by a failing children’s services department.
Austerity, simply put, has damaged the life chances of young people in Stoke-on-Trent and let down the most vulnerable children in our society who needed us the most.
That is why I have joined Forty-seven of my parliamentary colleagues and councillors – representing areas that have faced some of the deepest cuts to local government funding in the country – to back a call and sign a letter to the Prime Minister calling for urgent investment in young people.
The letter – which will be hand-delivered to Downing Street today and has been signed by MPs and
councillors from across England – claimed those from disadvantaged backgrounds in particular were
paying a heavy price for austerity and demanded that Theresa May use her last weeks in office to leave a parting gift for children’s services.
The letter organised by SIGOMA, an association of Municipal Authorities is the voice of England’s towns and cities, representing 47 Unitary councils and Metropolitan Boroughs outside London, is being delivered at the height of exam season for tens of thousands of teenagers to
highlight that many children will have been unable to access libraries and youth centres in preparation for GCSEs and A-Level exams – due to severe cuts to these vital support services and over 1,400 closures nationwide.
In doing so, we are urging the Prime Minister to address the £8bn funding gap which councils continue to face by 2025, and to use her remaining time in office to deliver a parting gift
aimed at supporting social mobility, which Theresa May has been reportedly considering. MPs from SIGOMA areas represent some of the most deprived communities in the UK.
In these constituencies, the effect of cuts to council services has meant many councils have had no choice
but to cut services at every level, including libraries, youth services and community centres.
Our children deserve better – let’s see if Theresa May uses the unique situation she now finds herself in – to undo some of the damage caused by her and David Cameron’s government.