GOVERNMENT bosses could be asked to examine the impact of austerity on Blackburn and Darwen.

Cllr Vicky McGurk has put forward a motion to a Blackburn with Darwen council forum meeting on Thursday.

She is asking chief executive Denise Park to write to secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, as well as Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds, to demand an urgent cumulative impact assessment of the austerity.

Cllr McGurk said: “As a result of benefit freezes, many families are unable to qualify for the 15 hours of 2 year olds free child care because the national minimum wage now exceeds the qualifying income level.

“In addition to this, our chief executive and our MPs must also ask what the Government is going to do to alleviate the increases of poverty, including in work poverty levels now internationally recognised by the UN and others.

“Blackburn with Darwen Council calls for the reversal of the freeze of benefits, and demands an increase to all benefits and eligibility criteria in line with inflation, including the 15 hour offer of childcare for two year olds from £16,180 per year, which is the rate set in 2014.”

Earlier this year, resources chief Cllr Andy Kay said the authority was faced with slashing £8 million from its budget for 2019/20.

He said the savings were needed to ensure a balanced budget and to offset any other emerging cost pressures in-year, as well as to replenish reserves ahead of more significant savings that may be required from 2020/21.

A study published in January showed people in Blackburn with Darwen are among those to have borne the brunt of austerity the hardest.

A report produced by thinktank Centre for Cities shows Blackburn with Darwen is in the top five areas in the UK for reduced spend in local authorities between 2009/10 and 2017/18.

According to figures in the report, Blackburn with Darwen Council has reduced its spending by 26.7 per cent - that equates to a £542 cut per resident over that time.

The national average over the same period is 14.3 per cent.

Services such as planning, libraries and culture activities have seen the deepest cuts in cities and non-urban areas alike, with spending on planning and development falling by 41 per cent in urban areas.

Meanwhile, children’s and adult social care, both being statutory services, have been relatively protected.

The council has lost more than £140 million in funding since 2010.