Guy Opperman’s record
Since 2010, Guy Opperman’s Conservative government has systematically cut the money allocated to councils to provide the vital services we all need in Northumberland. It has been calculated by the Institute for Government these cuts by central government have reduced grants to local government in real terms by 37% between 2010 and 2020. That’s from £41bn to £26bn in 2019/2020 prices. The spending power of our councils has plummeted as a consequence, forcing them to cut vital services.
In February 2019, Opperman voted for setting the main grant from central to local government at 56% lower than the previous year and that followed his support for a 28% lower grant than the year before that. It is a pattern throughout his time as our MP.
He voted to end financial support for some 16-19 year olds in Further Education, to reduce spending on welfare benefits, to make local councils responsible for helping those in need afford their council tax and reduce amount spent on such support.
He did nothing as school spending per pupil in England fell by 8% between 2010 and 2019 and is still below the 2010 level (in real terms).
In 2016 Guy voted against regulation of local bus networks (and public ownership of railways). He voted for HS2 and then watched as his government scrapped HS2 to Leeds, and the Northern Powerhouse link from Leeds to Manchester and he did nothing again, as Northern Railways were operating services in late 2022 with only just over 50% of trains running on time.
This is just a short summary of some of the votes Guy Opperman has supported that directly affect his constituents and the people of the North East of England.
In 2020/21, the North East overtook London to have the highest rate of child poverty in the UK, at 38% – up from 37% the year before.
The 2020/21 North East rise continues a longer-term trend, with the region experiencing by far the steepest increases in child poverty in the UK in recent years. Between 2014/15 and 2020/21 (the period covered by the DWP’s latest dataset), child poverty in the North East has risen by almost one half, from 26% (just below the UK average) to 38% (the highest rate of anywhere in the country). This equates to just over 11 children in a classroom of 30.
Perhaps this will be the legacy of Guy Opperman’s time as an MP in our region.
Opposition parties unite against youth worker redundancies
We’ve seen the devastating impact of these cuts locally with reductions to all kinds of public services, which Labour has been fighting hard to save. The most recent example is the recent move by the Conservative-led Northumberland County Council to make youth workers redundant.
Northumberland Labour leader Scott Dickinson said: “The Conservative leader of the council has been making speeches saying there would be no front-line redundancies, yet we’ve discovered that youth support services in Blyth, Seaton Valley, Haltwhistle, Hexham, Prudhoe and Allendale are to be affected. This only came to light after we were investigating why a youth worker in Blyth was being made redundant when members of staff started making contact with us.
“Apparently the staff were told the council no longer requires a youth service because there is so much on offer from the private and third sector”.
Labour and all of the other opposition parties on Northumberland County Council are united in opposing these cuts.