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Punished for spending in classrooms

From Andrew Slaughter

The article "No privatisation; no increase" (TES, December 6) highlights the financial burdens that successive Tory governments have placed on inner-city boroughs such as Hammersmith and Fulham. By constantly slashing our funding for schools and other local services, the Government has brought years of cuts and the misery of high taxation to local people.

Of course, we would all like to increase spending on local services but, unless we receive the generous hand-outs enjoyed by boroughs such as Westminster, we must continue to endure the annual round of cuts to jobs and services.

The Government claims that cutting our standard spending assessment (SSA) will force authorities such as ours to be more efficient and farm out services to private contractors. Not true. The district auditor has constantly praised the quality and efficiency of our in-house services, such as school meals. These are prepared by our own staff and not driven by the need to return a profit. As a result, the quality and nutritional value of our meals far exceed those in neighbouring Conservative boroughs.

Westminster claims to save Pounds 15 million a year through contracting out services, but the figures don't add up. Somewhere in the equation, public money is turned into private profit. We believe money is better spent on books for our children and teachers in our schools, so why are we still being punished?

ANDREW SLAUGHTER Leader, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, London W6.

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