Our most vulnerable children cannot rely on the Conservatives, so we must act ourselves.

Last month we launched our Let’s Fix It Together campaign and petition, calling on the government to give Bury a fairer funding deal for our public services.

It’s so important that councils get the money they need for local services, and what could be more essential than looking after our children?

Just to give you some examples of what it costs to keep our children safe and help them to thrive, the amount the council spends on children’s social care is around 20 per cent of our entire budget and rising.

This is because the number of children in our care continues to increase - a rise of 16 per cent over the last decade - as does the cost of providing this care.

Equally, funding is also needed to support those children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families. Number here have also sharply risen, up 80 per cent since 2018 to 2,657.

But let’s be clear, this isn’t just an issue of spending levels. It speaks to the very purpose of what public services are all about – supporting the most vulnerable and helping them to improve their life chances.

This is what we mean in Bury when we say we want to be a place where everyone can share in success.

We must create the conditions for success but also the opportunities for every resident to aspire to achieve it.

Bury Times: Bury Council leader, Cllr Eamonn O'BrienBury Council leader, Cllr Eamonn O'Brien (Image: Cllr Eamonn O'Brien)

This is my frustration when chronic underfunding, a weak economy and additional pressures like inflation cause us all to firefight around funding for basic services. It is a massive distraction from reaching those higher highs set out in our vision.

Despite our campaign gathering hundreds of supporters in only a few weeks – with more signing our petition every day – I was disappointed that the Conservative government announced no extra funding for local services in their autumn statement.

And while we will not give up on our campaign to convince them to reverse course, our campaign doesn’t just call on the Tories to act.

Quite frankly, they have had 13 years to act and only seem to make things worse.

Instead, we must look at what we can all do, especially when it comes to giving our children a bright future.

Take fostering, for example. Foster carers do a tremendous job, but we need more of them.

It means that more Bury children can stay here among their friends and contacts, rather than having to be placed elsewhere in the country.

And it also saves taxpayers’ money. That is why we’ve made substantial increases in the allowances we pay our foster carers.

So, if you’ve ever thought you could provide care for a vulnerable child or children, come and talk to the council about the opportunities and support we offer.