The Spending Review: The Hypothetical Reality of Local Authority Cuts

by Charlie_East_West on June 27, 2013

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Britain’s public services – Rest in peace.

In March 2011, George Osborne told the House of Commons: “We have already asked the British people for what is needed, and we do not need to ask for more.”

In June 2013, George Osborne just asked for more – in particular, from our local authorities and public services.

Osborne Scissorhands has announced a 10% cut in funding for councils within yesterday’s spending review. Local authorities have been warned that essential services would be stretched to “breaking point”.

George Osborne said yesterday that “we have to ask local government for the kind of sacrifice central government is making.”
Come off it, Gideon, your government prints money to prop up its failures, yet cuts money everywhere else.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles, said that the new settlement for his department represented “a fair deal for councils and a fair deal for council tax payers.”
Come off it Eric, how is the dismantling of core community services a fair deal?

The additional reduction for 2015-16, coming on the back of a 33% reduction in councils’ budgets for the 2011-15 period, will mean that once again, libraries, parks, refuge collections, road maintenance, leisure centres and school support services will feel the sharp pain from the falling axe.

A further 144,000 local government jobs will disappear by 2015-16, a figure which comes on top of the massive figure of 312,000 jobs already cut in the first two years of the coalition austerity programme.

Sir Merrick Cockell, the chairman of the Local Government Association stated his concerns, “This cut will stretch essential services to breaking point in many areas… the fact remains that some councils will simply not have enough money to meet all their statutory responsibilities. Services such as culture and leisure facilities, school support, road maintenance and growth related programmes will bear the brunt of these cuts.”

These cuts are wrapped under the name of austerity, but the reality is teaching us that it is privatisation in everything but the name. These are the Tories, and this is what they do. They will not stop until the public sector is reduced to levels seen on the moon. This was always the plan. As George East rightfully highlighted yesterday, “austerity is the pretext.”

I will give you a simple hypothetical example of what the Tories are up to and the disastrous consequences of their actions. It is the Summer of 2015, and it is the school holidays. I have decided to have a day in town with the kids. I will take them to the local library, followed by a swim in the municipal swimming pool, followed by a bike ride in the local park. The day turns out to be a complete and utter disaster. Everything has now been shut, sold, or has disappeared. The library has turned into a coffee shop, the swimming pool has turned into a fitness/spa retreat, and the park has turned into a supermarket. The council sold the library to Starbucks, the swimming pool to Virgin Active, and due to the gardening costs, litter collections, security, and tourist information costs, the local park was sold to Waitrose. Oh yes, I almost forgot – as I was driving home, my car got a puncture from hitting a pothole from a poorly maintained road that the council could not afford to fix. After arriving home with the sweat pouring off my brow from fixing my car tyre, I discovered that my bins had not been collected, because the council had decided to change the weekly bin collection to a fortnightly basis. The only winners from this disasterous day were the local rats.

This might seem like a far fetched hypothetical scenario. It is in fact, a grizzly truth. It is already happening across the country, and it is going to happen even more in the future. Our local authorities are forced into selling their public service crown jewels to balance the books, while rustling up private tendering opportunities and fire sales of their assets – it is forced privatisation caused by the Tories, wrapped up as necessary austerity. It is completely unnecessary, and we will all suffer the consequences.

Welcome to our world in 2015…

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