Wednesday will see the government announce its Spending Review. In his statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will set out government spending priorities for the year ahead. Many of you have emailed me to tell me that the government's priority should be supporting vital public services and those who work to deliver them.
The pandemic has shown if we ever needed reminding, just how dedicated all of our NHS workers are. Through each wave of the virus, we have seen doctors and nurses working gruelling hours to save lives, together with other NHS healthcare and support workers without whom the NHS would cease to function.
Many of you have been in touch regarding providing adequate funding for the Fire and Rescue Service and our firefighters. Since austerity began in 2010, firefighters have been asked to do more and more such as driving ambulances and responding to an increase in climate change-related threats. Despite these additional responsibilities, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Services budget is 7% smaller than it was in 2010.
We’ve also seen huge cuts to local government budgets since 2010 too. In Luton, there have been over £100 million of central government grant removed since 2010. Local councils have been at the frontline of supporting our communities to tackle the virus and have used their knowledge and expertise to target support where it is most needed. It is our local public health teams that have shown themselves to be more effective at contact tracing than the privatised Serco Test, Track and Trace system. It is time the government understood the value and importance of local councils and provided them with a long-term funding settlement. Funding that will allow councils to enhance our local services instead of cutting them.
All public sector workers have done a fantastic job during the crisis and many have not had a pay increase for many years. From doctors to nurses, porters to cleaners, firefighters and teachers, to police and council workers, the government should recognise the hard work of all public sector workers and give them the pay rise they deserve.