THE Government’s axing of a loan to a Sheffield engineering firm has been pinpointed as a prime example of the coalition’s lack of regard for the north.
Shadow Chief Secretary of the Treasury Rachel Reeves demanded fairer funding for Sheffield ahead of a speech which highlighted how northern constituencies are being forced to bear the brunt of budget cuts.
She cited the decision to axe Labour’s pledge of £80m to Sheffield Forgemasters in 2010, which cost 180 jobs, as evidence Sheffield has been given a raw deal in comparison with more affluent areas.
The firm planned to use the cash to build parts for nuclear power stations.
Her comments come after the launch of the Fair Deal for Sheffield campaign, which aims to highlight the unfairness of the latest round of cuts to city council funding.
Protesters say Sheffield’s budget cut between 2011 and 2015 is equivalent to around £200 per household compared with £40 at other authorities.
Mrs Reeves said: “The cancellation of the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters was bad for jobs and bad for the economy.
“It could have led to growth.
“It would have created jobs and investment in a new area where Britain could be a world leader. Those jobs have been lost for good.
“Yorkshire, including Sheffield, has faired worse than other parts of the country because Government policy is hitting the north harder.
“We need to bring back investment in jobs for the northern part of the UK.”
In a speech to Parliament, the Leeds MP will ask for action on education to increase employment opportunities for the ‘forgotten 50 per cent’ of young people who do not go to university, an active industrial policy and the creation of a British investment bank to provide long-term finance for small businesses.
Mrs Reeves threw her weight behind Fair Deal for Sheffield.
She said: “Sheffield is trying to do a lot of good things.
“It is having to pick up the pieces from the impact of central cuts while dealing with a rise in demand for services.”
The Fair Deal petition to give Sheffield and South Yorkshire more funding has collected more than 800 names.
n Visit A Fair deal for Sheffield to sign the petition.