Government council cuts are punishing the most vulnerable

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Unite_logo_for_webMass scale cuts to council budgets will lead to the death of local government and heap punishment on the most vulnerable, as ministers announce a further 2.9 per cent cut in funding for 2014/15, warns Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union.

Many of the country’s most deprived councils will bear the brunt, with Liverpool city council facing a 62 per cent cut in funding between 2010 and 2017. Local government workers, who have already suffered a £3,544 cut in pay since 2010, will be pushed deeper into poverty as they are forced into a jobs versus wages tussle.

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, fears that by 2015 there will be little local government left after a 43 per cent real terms cut in funding in the five years since 2010. Cuts of this scale will lead to the complete demolition of services including care for the frail and elderly, children services, support for vulnerable families and youth services.

Despite the huge pressures faced by councils, Unite appeals to councils not to slash before thinking, but to work with unions to find savings and to protect service quality.

Responding to the government’s provisional local government financial settlement, published on December 18, 2013, Fiona Farmer, Unite national officer, said: “This government is presiding over the complete meltdown of local services. Ordinary hardworking people are, again, the ones being battered by the loss of the services they rely on to educate and care for their families.

“This is a shamelessly political settlement which rewards wealthy Tory councils and punishes the less well off.

“In some of the country’s most deprived areas, including the prime minister’s Oxfordshire constituency, services such as care for the frail and elderly, support for vulnerable families, children’s centres, sexual health services around teenage pregnancy and Connexions services, have already been shut or are threatened with closure. The wealthy Tory shires continue to escape relatively unscathed.

“The government will be gambling on the public blaming local councils for service cuts, but it is wrong; the public understand where the real blame lies - at the door of the communities and local government secretary, Eric Pickles.”

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

In spite of warnings such as this by the leaders, so to speak, in the labor movement the British Labour Party has stated that it will continue, should it win the 2015 elections, which cannot come too soon, with the austerity measures and cuts.

While it is true that the finances of the United Kingdom are rather in disarray and the country is heavily indebted to the bankers of the world there are savings and cuts that can be made elsewhere and which would be real cuts in expenditure and not to vital services.

Alone abandoning the stupid idea of a nuclear deterrent which is laughable in the extreme would save billions upon billions which could be better used elsewhere and that is just for starters. Abandoning ideas of wars in countries where we have no business of being would be another great saving that could be made, not that the generals and warmongers would like this idea and neither the industries whose “vital interests” might be abandoned if we did.

The brief of our armed forces is the “defense of the realm” and the realm, last time I checked, does not include Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or any other country. It also does not include Bosnia and such like. It ends with the territorial waters of the United Kingdom and may, if we so want, include Gibraltar and the Islas Malvinas and other so-called dependents.

Let's look at savings there and to creating a peaceful country that regards the sovereignty of other countries and to a green economy which could create masses of jobs and give us energy and food security and much more.

© 2013