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...

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...

Women's Fightback: workers hit by café and pub shutdown

Young workers and women are likely to be the hardest hit by the coronavirus shutdown of businesses such as restaurants, hotels, pubs and retailers. Low earners are seven times as likely as high earners to work in a business sector that has shut down, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Their analysis found a third of the bottom 10% of earners worked in the worst-hit sectors, against one in 20 (5%) of those in the top 10%. Women are about one-third more likely than men to work in a sector that has been shut down, as they make up the bulk of retail and hospitality workers. One in six...

Salford, Liverpool and Tower Hamlets

On 26 February, Paul Dennett, the Labour mayor of Salford, announced that "for the first year since 2010/11… Salford Council has managed to set a no cuts budget after nine debilitating years of Tory-Lib-Dem and Tory cuts, which have taken £211 million or 53% of central government funding out of Salford". This is surely a good move, and some of the credit must go to campaigning over years by unions and community groups in Salford. Steve North, Salford branch secretary of the local government workers' union Unison, writing in a personal capacity for Socialist Alternative, says: "The most...

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