MY mailbag is dominated by letters from people across Wigan expressing concern about the cuts to services we are likely to see over the next few years.

In the last few days I have tried to help people who are trying to protect Wigan’s chiropody services, those worried about the future of our libraries, the important Sure Start nurseries, local charities, centres for people with mental health problems, along with the need for wheelchairs for disabled people.

There is no question at all that the cuts to services do and will have a big human cost.

And people in Wigan are being hit hard because of the above average budget cuts handed down by the Government.

Because the cuts are front loaded, Wigan Council has to make the biggest reductions almost immediately.

It leaves very little time to find efficiency savings, like pooling services or pursuing voluntary redundancy, and across the North West councils are having to lay off staff and stop services.

With a third of Wiganers employed in the public sector and many small businesses reliant on public sector contracts this is deeply worrying.

This week in the House of Commons we debated the Welfare Reform Bill which introduces a simpler, but harsher welfare system for people who are unemployed or too ill to work.

It is likely to have a particular impact on families and I am very concerned about it.

At a time when six people are chasing every job vacancy in Wigan introducing a tougher benefits regime is greatly unfair. I agree with Ministers that people should do their bit, but the people who fill my surgeries are desperate to find jobs or desperately worried about losing the work they have.

I have also heard from disabled people, both in and out of work, who are genuinely scared about their situation.

I have told them that my colleagues and I will work hard to protect those people who cannot work.

As your local MP I am also doing all I can to protect jobs.

This week I organised a meeting with the Minister for the Tote John Penrose and my colleague Yvonne Fovargue MP, so he could meet some of the Tote workforce and understand just how valuable they are to the Tote, and how important the Tote is to Wigan.

It is vital we use every opportunity to fight for the town in the difficult months and years ahead.