Narrowing the gap in Bolton to improve people's lives by targeting the social determinants of health such as poor housing and a poor environment in areas of our town who suffer the highest deprivation, highest levels of crime and highest unemployment has been a major policy of Bolton Council since the 1990s.

Successive Tory and Labour Governments ringfenced funds to Bolton which could only be spent in areas of deprivation in order to tackle the issues that poverty in these wards was compounding.

In 2010 the Coalition Government ended this funding by removing £20m of Area Based Grant in one fell swoop.

In order to continue narrowing the gap the council invested in Neighbourhood Management

(Neighbourhood Management and Area Forum working, once separate functions, became jointly administered by the same officers as CUTs dug into officer capacity at the council. However the functions remained separate and funds allocated for different criteria)

This is now all being undermined with this change in policy direction by the local Tories controlling the council.

The Area Forum element of the funds has always been allocated equitably across the borough with which we have no problem.

However Labour are concerned that under the new calculation, which sees an end to targeting on deprivation in year initially, Farnworth becomes the biggest loser by £18k with Breightmet also losing £15k.

The inner wards with high poverty also lose out.

Two of the largest winners are Tory Bromley Cross and Heaton/Lostock wards!

This transfer of money from areas with high needs to those with no areas of deprivation, or hardly any, was surely not what the leaders of all the minority groups intended as an outcome when they signed up to their joint 25 point plan, or was it?

We know Tories are unconcerned about the effects of poverty and this policy change unashamedly demonstrates this but we had thought better of the other political groups who like to profess their social responsibility to those struggling in our town.

It also calls into question the Tory Leadership’s sincerity in delivering their health & well-being agenda which requires more to be spent on prevention and the social determinants in these areas of deprivation.

The Tories are now in power supported there by LDems /UKIP/H&FK/H&BF/Brexit and everyone expects them all to behave responsibly on behalf of all residents especially those struggling more than others in certain parts of our town.

This change of policy and redirection away from need is adding insult to injury on top of the Tories cruel Austerity CUTs which have hurt those struggling the most.

Cllr Linda Thomas