TO say that I was astonished to see George Osborne heading up the launch of the Knutsford Community Fund is putting it mildly. I practically choked on my cornflakes as I read last week’s front page.

The Community Fund is a splendid and thoroughly praiseworthy initiative, by some very generous sponsors, to help people in need of assistance in the town. The problem with George Osborne being involved is that it was precisely his policy of heartless austerity for so many years that pushed more and more people into that position of need.

For someone who studied history at Oxford, Mr Osborne seemed not to learn the lessons of the 1930s, after the financial crash of 1929.

Then, it was shown both intellectually and empirically, that you can’t cut your way out of a recession. The prime objective of Mr Osborne’s austerity policy was to cut the national deficit, after the financial crash of 2008. This policy failed every target that Mr Osborne set, up to his sacking by Theresa May in 2016.

His government ruthlessly cut funding to public services, such as the NHS (which currently has 20,000 job vacancies), the police, the justice system, prisons and local authorities.

The last of these has resulted in the closure of libraries, children’s centres and local bus services across the country.

As a direct result of his policies, we saw the most shameful scandal of all – the rise of homelessness and of food banks.

Food banks, in one of the richest countries on earth!

We have since seen the slowest recovery on record and only now is a government able to make promises about increased investment. Too late for many, even if the promises are kept.

It seems to be charities and their volunteers – the Lions, First Responders, CAFT, the Welcome, Knutsford Hosts and so on, that keep this town – and the country generally – going. For that reason the creation of the Knutsford Community Fund is a wholly welcome and heart-warming initiative. But it’s a sobering thought that, but for the policies of the last ten years that have shredded our social fabric, it would not be as necessary as it now is.

Geoff Holman, Knutsford