Like other Members, I want to remind Ministers what the places that they have cut so savagely actually look like. By next year, Newham will have lost 48% of its grant—£138 million a year. That is a £1,301 cut for every household, which is the second highest cut in the country in what is arguably the second poorest borough in the country.
Conservative Members like to pretend that this is all about population—the number of residents in an area who need council services. How can that be true given that Newham grew by almost a third in the 10 years leading up to 2015? We are already the fourth largest London borough by population, and we are expected to have the second largest population growth in London over the next 22 years as well. We also have the youngest population in the country, with 40% of residents under 25 according to the last census. That obviously massively increases need for children’s and youth services, as well as for local authority school services, public health, welfare assistance and more.
The Government seem to think that the only age group that needs council support is pensioners—through social care. It is absolutely true that social care is in crisis, and that affects my constituents in the same way it affects those of every other Member, but young people need much more support as well, and nothing illustrates that better than the fact that nine of my young constituents were murdered between January 2017 and March last year.
A further change that has increased demand for council services is the huge growth in the proportion of my constituents who have to rent privately. Private rentals have doubled—they made up 23% of the total in 2006 and 46% 10 years later—and private rents are simply extortionate. The lower quartile rent on a two-bed over a chicken shop in Newham is now £1,250 a month. Lower quartile earnings are £1,168 a month, so a month’s full-time pay will not even cover the rent, let alone luxuries such as food, heating, clothes and so on. It cannot be any wonder then that the council recently found that, when housing costs are included, 67% of Newham’s children live in poverty.
Although we do have serious problems locally due the consequences of the right to buy, it is not that social housing has reduced so massively, but owner-occupation. In 2006, owner-occupation represented 47% of local housing but, over 10 years, it has more than halved to just 23%. Homelessness and temporary accommodation are extreme problems in Newham—the situation is the worst in the country. The number of Newham residents in temporary accommodation almost doubled between 2012 and 2017. There are more children in temporary accommodation in the 36 sq km of Newham than there are in the 63,000 sq km of Yorkshire, the south-west, the north-east and the east midlands combined.
This urgent and horrifying crisis is simply awful for the families who have to live with it day by day, but it has also meant fewer people living in Newham for long periods, thereby building up relationships and a sense of community, and far more people feeling constantly insecure. That insecurity in itself has generated yet more need for council services, and I believe that it has contributed to everything from criminal gang activity to mental health crises, and from childhood obesity to elderly loneliness—and even to things like fly-tipping. All these issues have a cost to the council and make it harder for council workers to do their most important jobs for the public.
Can the Government seriously tell me that my constituents have not been harmed by their cuts, and that those cuts have not contributed to the rise in young people being murdered or in fear on my streets? Can they seriously tell me that continuing these cuts over the next year will not deepen that harm? No, they cannot—not honestly. Frankly, the best way that this Government can help my constituents is by getting out of the way