Letters: City challenge

Your editorial (31 December) noted that the prime minister had little of economic substance to say in his new year’s message. This is even though people across the country are becoming increasingly aware of the growing north-south divide, as the government’s unfairly applied cuts continue to hit the poorest northern cities hardest.

As you note, this omission hits his credentials, following warnings from myself and other city leaders in a letter to the Observer (30 December) that as communities fragment and councils are forced to withdraw vital support targeted at the most vulnerable people, social tension could spill over into civil unrest.

2012 was a spectacular year for Great Britain. The Olympics showed what happens when you unite people and give people the support and backing they need to succeed. Liverpool is succeeding because we have, like other cities, been given backing, and the results are starting to show in the confident city we have become. In 2013, the government faces a stark choice. It can continue to withdraw the support that Liverpool and cities like it need to grow into assertive, self-sufficient places. Or it can back us and other big cities. It can invest in Britain’s future and help rebalance Britain’s economy.

Neither myself nor other core city leaders are denying the need for austerity or the need for local government to take its fair share of reductions in public spending. Our call is simply for fairness in how that austerity is distributed across the country.

The government still relies on a funding formula that is outdated. How can it be right that in Liverpool we face a ¬£252 cut per person, while others face cuts of only ¬£30 per person? It can’t be right. It makes the government’s claim that we’re all in this together sound hollow. We’re not asking Eric Pickles to find more money. Just to distribute the money he does have more fairly.
Joe Anderson
Mayor of Liverpool

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