Anti-cuts, public services

Questions and answers on the cuts

Q. The Lib/Tory coalition says that the government just has to make social cuts, in the same way as anyone who has "maxed out" their credit cards needs to cut back. Is that true? A. No. In the first place, there is nothing impossible about the government continuing with a large budget deficit for a while. Governments can't "run out of money" in the same way that households or businesses can. In the last analysis the question "where can the government get the money from?" can be answered simply: from the Bank of England printworks. There are limits on printing more cash, but the government is...

“The irreplaceable strategy of ‘simply keeping going’”

Ruth Cashman, who is standing for election to the Momentum National Co-ordinating Group (London region), discusses “holding the line” for militant trade unionism in local government. Part two of three articles. Part one, 'How I Became a Socialist'. Picture, Lambeth Unison's campaign to stop cuts to Local Children's Centres I came into local government, getting a job in the Lambeth Library Service, almost exactly the same time that the government was making lots of cuts (2008). My entire experience of trade union activism has been about dealing with austerity. About six months into the job, the...

£6 billion council gap

Stevenage’s Labour council has threatened to declare bankruptcy. The Local Government Association (an umbrella body for councils) says councils need £6 billion extra from central government this year — if not the full £15 billion taken away from councils since 2010 — to keep basic services going after their extra spending and their loss of income in the pandemic. Labour activists are building a campaign for Labour councillors to unite with unions and communities to fight back. • Check out the campaign online here.

Fight coming council cuts

Without an urgent cash injection, sweeping cuts of 20% could be seen in local authorities right across England. So the Local Government Association has reported. In real terms, the net funding shortfall from the pandemic emergency is estimated at £10 billion. Labour-held Stevenage Borough Council has been one of the first to break cover, reporting a £4.5 million black hole, expanding to £8 million by the end of year: see here. The council’s whole annual budget is £9 million. Without a bail-out this deficit could force the council to declare bankruptcy and issue a Section 114 notice, allowing...

Call for action on social care

Late May has seen significant developments in the fight around social care. After months of refusing to even address the issue of sick pay and isolation pay for care workers, the Tories have announced a £600m “infection control fund”. Guidance for the fund states that part of its purpose is to “maintain the normal wages of staff who, in order to reduce the spread of infection need to reduce the number of establishments in which they work, reduce the number of hours they work, or self-isolate”. This is potentially an enormous victory. But the announcement has been very quiet, no doubt because...

Safety inspection shut down

Britain’s official Health and Safety Executive responded to the virus danger in the many workplaces still operating throughout the lockdown, by… suspending its workplace inspections. It phased out everything that couldn’t be done by its staff working from home. Between 9 March and 7 May, the HSE received 4,813 reports about workplace issues relating to the virus, but it has started no proceedings against any employer. From 2009-10 to 2016, successive Tory cuts reduced the HSE’s budget by 46%, and the number of inspectors it employed fell by over a third. On 20 May the HSE announced it would...

Threat of London Transport cuts

London Mayor Sadiq Khan needs to brush up on his negotiation skills. Mere hours after he announced Transport for London was on the verge of running out of money, and services may stop running if additional funding wasn’t forthcoming, he managed to secure... a package of less money than is needed, with more strings attached than a marionette. In exchange for the £1.6 billion package, Khan has agreed to return the Tube to 100% service levels “as soon as possible”, and to a long-term review of TfL’s finances — which the Tory government will no doubt use to demand cuts. Khan also agreed that...

A public care system must focus on independent living

I agree with Sacha Ismail's argument in his survey of social care that the system needs radical reshaping – though we may disagree about the shape. For me, the focus of social care needs to be independent living. Our priority must be enabling people to have control over the care they receive, whether through direct payments or commissioned care. People should only be living in institutions where that is their genuine preference, and should be given whatever resources they would require to live in the community. The number of care home deaths during Covid-19 really highlights the danger of...

Crisis in social care: fight for public ownership

In the week up to 10 April, according to the Office of National Statistics, 1,043 care home residents died as a result of Covid-19 – leaping from 217 the week before. Then over the Easter weekend (11-15 April), according to the Care Quality Commission, that may have doubled again to about 2,000. Before those figures, Care England, which represents care homes across the country, estimated that around 7,500 residents had died from the virus - five times the government's 1,400 figure and adding to the total (official) number of deaths by almost half. National Records of Scotland has suggested...

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