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...

To curb the virus, reverse the cuts

The UK’s virus infections are now rising faster than France’s and Spain’s, and are at a higher level (relative to population) than Spain’s. The government’s measures, since infections started rising fast again in early August, have had little effect. The Tories are set to close bars and cafés again, in large areas at least, and maybe soon for a new lockdown similar to spring’s. In Ireland, which has a lower rate of infection increase than the UK, the government’s scientific advisers have already proposed a new general lockdown, not yet implemented. Lockdowns (with suitable arrangements for...

Video: Rail workers discuss fighting job cuts

RMT activists Janine Booth and John Pencott offer their views on fighting the wave of job cuts that face the rail industry. These were the opening remarks at an online meeting held on 16 July 2020, hosted by Tubeworker and Off The Rails, bulletins written by and for Tube and rail workers respectively and published by Workers' Liberty. Audio and video.

Health and social care must both be public

Article and video. The Guardian reports a Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson saying there is “no foundation” to claims that the government plans to bring social care under the umbrella of the NHS. But rumours are widespread enough that the denial comes at the end of a longish article on the claims. The Guardian has since covered the possibility fairly extensively, as have other media outlets. We want social care made a free public service, publicly-owned and provided, with its staff on secure public-sector pay and conditions. Health and care campaigners are divided on the general issue of NHS/care integration. Last year’s Labour conference voted both that “our publicly-owned NHS needs to be fully integrated with Social Care systems which should all… be public”; and that “consequences of marrying social care to the NHS include medicalisation, isolation, indignity, maltreatment; bringing social care under a struggling NHS umbrella is not the answer.” Most campaigners are to one degree or another sceptical, at least on the basis of what it would mean when social care is extensively privatised, radically fragmented and in a partial state of collapse. “We have to say that the state of social care, its fragmentation and privatisation, means that at present there is nothing acceptable for the NHS to integrate with”, as Keep Our NHS Public’s John Lister put it at a recent conference on social care. We need more debate in the labour movement about the relationship between social care and the NHS, going beyond undefined buzzwords like “integration”. But no relationship will work well unless on the basis of the kind of policy Labour Party conference has called for – comprehensive public ownership of care.

Luton cuts

Luton’s Labour council has passed an emergency budget (with support from Tories on the council) which cuts 365 jobs and frontline services. Luton is particularly hard-hit because the council has depended heavily on revenues from Luton Airport, which have dwindled with the lockdown. Other councils also face budget gaps from extra spending in the lockdown, only partly covered by central government aid, and reduced incomes. Labour should be campaigning for the Tory government to restore the cuts made by the Tories to local government funding since 2010.

"We're showing them we're not weak" - Tower Hamlets workers strike again

After strikes on 3, 6 and 7 July, Tower Hamlets council workers will strike again 15-17 July to overturn the “Tower Rewards” scheme attacking their terms and conditions. Tower Hamlets Unison’s adult social care convener Amina Patel spoke to Sacha Ismail about their fight. For ways you can support the strike, including picket lines, donations and solidarity messages, see the Tower Hamlets Unison website. Please also add your name to this statement. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve had since the action began. This dispute has been on the cards for over a year, but with the pandemic we...

“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...

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