Page last updated at 20:33 GMT, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 21:33 UK

Local government cuts will 'hammer' poorer areas

The government's proposals to reduce local government funding will "hammer the poor", shadow communities and local government secretary John Denham has warned.

Opening a Commons debate on 29 June 2010, Mr Denham said some of the poorest areas would see their spending cut by the highest amounts.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was absent from the chamber attending a cabinet meeting in Bradford, but Mr Denham said he was "disappointed" Mr Pickles "has not bothered to turn up to this debate".

He added: "The truth is of course that he is too scared to be here. Too scared to explain the series of blunders he has already made over these cuts."

Former local government secretary Mr Denham said Salford loses "twice as much" as its more affluent neighbouring authority Trafford.

In London, Newham "the sixth most deprived borough in the country" loses £4.6m but Richmond loses less than £1m, he told MPs.

But Communities and Local Government Minister Grant Shapps rejected the opposition's charges and accused Labour of leaving the coalition a "toxic legacy of debt" under their "scorched earth policy".

He said: "We need to tighten our belts and it's right to expect local authorities to play their part in that process."

The change in government offered the chance to decentralise power and put local people "back in the driving seat", he said.

Watch part two of the debate here.

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