Page last updated at 22:17 GMT, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 23:17 UK

Blunkett warns of dire impact of local government cuts

Labour former cabinet minister David Blunkett has issued a stark warning that the government's plans to reduce funding for local government might lead to social unrest.

During an opposition day debate on 29 June 2010, the MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough described the cuts as the "decentralisation of pain".

"It is a dangerous situation we are in, where we will find that we have cut expenditure and we have cut services, and resentment and bitterness will arise in a way that will lead to the kind of disturbances and the lack of social cohesion that we did experience in the 1980s," he told MPs.

He argued that ministers and officials at the Treasury needed to take "great care" to avoid destroying services for "ordinary people".

"If that happens we will regret it for very many years to come," he said.

And he added: "Who in this House could not be in favour of decentralisation, devolvement and localism? Some of us have preached it and practised it throughout our lives.

"But it's not the decentralisation of power that's taking place, but the decentralisation of pain," he concluded.

But Tory MP Andrew Bridgen alleged that the Labour government had used the funding formula for local government as a "political weapon which was used to beat the shire counties of England for having the temerity to vote Conservative".

He said in his constituency each school pupil had £3,888 spent on them but in the city of Leicester the figure was £4,497.

"This simply is not fair," he said.

Part one of the debate can be found here here.

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