Cut, cuts and er… more cuts!
So today local government faces another 10% cut in its Government grant for local services.
According to Grant Shapps, this should be no problem as councils have “coped” so well with past cuts. This is nonsense of course, as he well knows. Having already had an average of 33% shaved off their budgets in the last three years, to take out a further 10% means councils will have lost between 40-50% of the budgets they had when this Government took office. How many organisations, especially the ConDem’s favourite private sector outfits, would manage losing such a huge proportion of their budgets ?
Shapps joked that councils obviously had enough money as their reserves had gone up. What a buffoon! Anyone who knows anything about local government will tell you that in periods of greater uncertainty (which we are certainly suffering in local government!) auditors recommend higher reserves. Most, not all councils, have obliged.
Shrinking the state
And a new report published by Zurich Municipal suggests that a million jobs will be lost overall from the public sector within four years. Over 400,000 local government jobs have gone already since 2010. This is a major rolling back of the local state – stripping away layer upon layer of vital local services.
Make no mistake, it is also a major attack on local democracy too. As councils find their role increasingly reduced to commissioning services and handing out contracts, the role of the elected councillor and the democratic accountability of local services is drastically reduced.
What’s the point of councils then?
There may come a point at which one would have to ask if there any point in having elected councils if they have such restricted powers, so little resources and such limited control and say over what happens locally. Perhaps that is the whole point of what this Government is doing. Remember Thatcher abolished the GLC because she didn’t like any opposition. Now local councils as we know them are gradually being abolished too, just in case…
Where or where is the national campaign to defend local democracy, when you need it!?