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Government cuts will fall disproportionately on Tower Hamlets, many fear

PUBLISHED: 16:37 20 October 2010

Protestors at Chrisp Street Market rally against government cuts

Protestors at Chrisp Street Market rally against government cuts

Carmen Valino

THE burden of spending cuts in social housing and public sector jobs will fall disproportionately on Tower Hamlets, protestors and politicians said today.

As the government announced that almost half a million jobs will go and social housing will be cut by 50 per cent as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, fears were raised about how the East End will cope.

Dozens of protestors headed to Chrisp Street Market, in Poplar this afternoon to rally against reductions in housing, education and other budgets.

Arguing against the £4billion of cuts facing universities, Richard McEwan, a lecturer at Tower Hamlets College and joint branch secretary of Poplar’s University and College Union (UCU), said: “We’re writing off young people.

“We’ve got one of the highest rates of unemployment in London so we’ll be hit harder than other boroughs.

“There is so much anxiety in the classroom. Pupils are terrified they won’t get a university place. One recently said to me he thinks he’ll end up on the scrap heap.

“There will be knock-on effects, too. We’ll see more violence and more crime.”

The group are planning to meet up with hundreds more protestors in Holborn this evening to march to Whitehall in opposition to the announcements.

Meanwhile, the effect of the social housing cuts – which plans to raise social rents to up to 80 per cent of the market value – will hit Londoners hard, some fear.

Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said: “It’s saying to tens of thousand of people in Tower Hamlets, get ready to move. People will be priced out of the borough.

“We’ve been doing what we can to build social cohesiveness, with people with money next to those worse off. This will make London the provision of the wealthy.”

Mr Fitzpatrick also fears the cuts will lead to a disproportionately high number of people out of work in the borough, as the local authority is such a big employer.

He added: “The number of people we’ve got in the public sector is higher than other parts of the country.”

But MP David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, told the Advertiser he doesn’t believe the cuts will have a heavy burden on East Londoners.

Speaking about the changes to social rent, he said: “It’s unfair on people who are working who are priced out of particular areas if we have a benefits system that discriminates in favour of those who aren’t working.

“This is getting the balance right.”

He also said east London has many prospects in the private sector that could make up for public sector job losses.

Mr Gauke added: “We’ve got Crossrail and we’re funding the Olympics properly. That’s very helpful for east London.”

Chancellor George Osborne announced today that the Crossrail scheme will go ahead.

George Iacobescu, chief executive of the Canary Wharf Group, said: “It is great news. The investment in Crossrail will be repaid many times over in the form of jobs and regeneration.”

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