Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Cuts are Hurting

VOTE THE SOCIALIST PARTY
English councils’ spending on neighbourhood services, such as bins, planning, potholes and leisure, has fallen by more than £3bn in the past five years, a report, published by the benchmarking group, the Association for Public Service Excellence (Apse), found. 

The most deprived council areas have seen the biggest falls in spending in these services – up to 22% on average over five years among the most deprived fifth of authorities, compared with just 5% among the wealthiest.

The poorest areas had an especially sharp spending fall in, for example, food and water safety inspection, road safety and school crossings, community centres and services aimed at cutting crime – such as CCTV – and support for local bus services. There were wide variations across the country, with some councils cutting neighbourhood services by 40% while others have increased these budgets by 20%. The cuts to neighbourhood services have taken place against a backdrop of unprecedented cuts in local government spending as a share of the economy. In 2010-11, it accounted for 8.4% of the economy, falling to 6.7% by 2015-16. By 2020-21, it will be down to 5.7%, a 60-year low, the report says. Although much of the political focus of local government cuts has been on social care services, the impact on neighbourhood services, which include highways and transport, cultural services, environmental services and planning, has been far greater, the report says.

One member expressed his dismay that he no longer had the staff to maintain some verges in his area, which had become overgrown, but that within the context of austerity these overgrown verges were the price to pay for ensuring that a vulnerable person in the area would receive the support they required,” it says.


Apse chief executive Paul O’Brien said: “While many are terming the forthcoming general election as the ‘Brexit election’, we can’t afford to ignore the bread and butter neighbourhood issues. In eight years, local government spending will have dropped from two thirds of that of central government’s to half. There is a slow but very harmful dismantling of neighbourhood services that marks a profound change in what local public services our communities can expect to receive. From emptying bins to running swimming pools to providing high quality local parks, spending on these services which communities really value has been cut harder and faster than any other area of public service spend. Centrally driven austerity has fallen hardest on local shoulders.”

Our candidate for Guildford West, Adam Buick, made this comment some days ago which is totally relevant:
The main issue facing Surrey County Council is a lack of funds to provide decent care for the elderly and vulnerable but also to even keep the street lights on. Most of its funding comes from central government, and the “Great Recession” following the “Crash of 2008” required the government to cut back on its spending to relieve the pressure on profits. These cuts have now trickled down to local level. That’s why capitalism is to blame.”

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