Cambridgeshire remains one of the most unequal counties in the country,
despite unprecedented growth. Deprivation levels in Fenland and parts of
Cambridge are much higher than in the more affluent south of the county and
people’s health, access to services and life opportunities are poorer.
COVID-19 has added to this inequality, with frontline, poorly paid and casual
workers facing the highest health risks and many others facing food or fuel
poverty and increasing levels of debt. The pandemic’s impact on the physical
and mental health of vulnerable groups such as care home residents, carers
and young people has been appalling.
Central government has ‘hollowed out’ local authorities, stripping them of
resources. But the County has colluded in this. It has stripped out preventive
services, dressing up service cuts as ‘transforming lives’ and ‘building
community resilience’. This has hit at the most disadvantaged and vulnerable
in the County and increased demand for more expensive crisis-point care.
Labour understands that tackling inequalities does not only mean restoring
such services, important though that is. It also means spreading jobs and
services more fairly across the County, improving amenities, access and
connectivity to support rural communities. Above all, it means creating a
greener and more sustainable economy that protects our natural resources
and helps to tackle climate change.