Austerity over? Then reverse cuts to our vital public services say Greens

12 December 2018

Greens challenge Government to reinstate funding for police, fire and council services crippled by years of cuts  

 

The Green Group of Councillors in Brighton and Hove will this week challenge the Conservative Government to reverse cuts made to public services following the announcement that ‘austerity is over.’ [1]

In a set of proposals being put to a vote (Thursday 13th December), Greens will request that the Council lobbies the Conservative Government for an end to punitive welfare policies and reinstates funding for the police, emergency and council services to 2009/10 levels in order to address the damage caused by years of austerity cuts. [2]

Analysis shows that the introduction of public spending cuts under the Conservative Government has ‘inflicted misery’ on UK citizens. A report by a special envoy for the United Nations (UN) found that austerity policies were driven by political aims rather than economic necessity, placing the UK in breach of four UN human rights agreements relating to women, children, disabled people and economic and social rights. [3]

The UN also condemned cuts to local councils, describing them as ‘damaging the fabric’ of society. According to the National Audit Office, council grants from central government for services such as adult social care, children’s services, waste collection and health promotion have reduced by almost 50% since 2010, with many such as Northamptonshire County Council now forced to declare bankruptcy. It is estimated that in Brighton and Hove alone the city council has faced a £140 million reduction in government grants. [4]

Greens have mounted repeated opposition to the Conservative Government’s austerity policies, calling both locally and nationally for an end to Universal Credit, mitigation to assist those affected and making changes to local budgets to reverse cuts. Greens took their lobby for proper public service funding to the Treasury in London in 2016. [5]

At a meeting of Full Council this week, Greens will ask the Chief Executive to contact the Government, requesting information on when punitive welfare policies such as Universal Credit and others that have adversely affected women, children and disabled people will be reviewed, as well as asking how soon Government funding for public services will be reinstated if the claim that ‘austerity is over’ is truly to be believed. [6]

Cllr Leo Littman, who is proposing the notice of motion on austerity, commented:

“Under cover of so-called austerity, the Tory Government has overseen the largest transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest in Britain in living memory. While the use of foodbanks since 2010 has increased 30-fold, the wealth of the richest 1,000 families in the country has trebled. Since the Government tells us that austerity is now at an end, we expect them to reintroduce survivable levels of welfare payments, and proper levels of funding for public services, so that those who have borne the brunt of Government’s cuts, and indeed anyone not among the super-rich, can once again receive the support and services we need.” [7]



Cllr Alex Phillips added:

The impact of 10 years of austerity on our communities is now plainly visible. Alongside the slashing and trashing of public services, accompanying welfare benefit changes such as Universal Credit have hit hard. In Brighton and Hove 68% of people on Universal Credit are now in rent arrears. Children’s groups have started to describe young people born in the last ten years as ‘the austerity generation,’ with research showing that an extra 1.5 million children will be in poverty by 2021. Families with a disabled adult or child have lost more than £5,500 a year under punitive benefit caps and sanctions. Women have borne 86% of cuts and watched as services like legal aid and domestic violence support have shrunk to almost nothing. Poverty gaps for BME communities have also widened.  

“Greens will continue to lobby the Conservative Government to bring these brutal policies to an end. If austerity is truly ‘over’, then the Government must bring in funding urgently to reverse the unacceptable impact it has caused.”

  

[1] Prime Minister Theresa May stated that ‘people need to know that austerity is over’ at the Conservative party conference in October.

[2] The Institute of Fiscal Studies has calculated that there will be a further £12bn cut in welfare spending by 2020, with the NHS facing its tightest funding since 1950s, and prisons, probation and the legal system cut by over £4bn since 2010.  https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/22/public-services-face-real-terms-spending-cuts-of-up-to-40-in-decade-to-2020

The county’s police federation also warned earlier this year that cuts to Sussex Police put the public at risk. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-33002962

 

 

[3] The UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty conducted a two-week fact finding mission in the UK to explore the impact of poverty and found that austerity policies had condemned many to poverty, in addition to breaching four UN human rights agreements relating to women, children, disabled people and economic and social rights.  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/nov/28/spending-cuts-uk-human-rights-obligations-report



[4] National Audit Office: https://www.nao.org.uk/press-release/financial-sustainability-of-local-authorities-2018/


and;


‘Over £12bn has been cut from public services since Conservative Government policies centred around cuts in public spending began in 2008.’

https://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/brighton-to-brace-itself-for-24-million-council-cuts-1-7706445

[5] Greens invite Labour council to join their protests at the Treasury: https://www.brightonhovegreens.org/news/2016/02/05/greens-invite-labour-council-to-join-their-protest-at-the-treasury/

 

[6] Wording of Green Group Notice of Motion: ‘End of Austerity.’ – For consideration at meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council Full Council, 13th December 2018

This Council welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement that ‘Austerity’ is finally at an end and that unprecedented cuts to public expenditure will be reversed1.

 

As a result, this Council requests the Chief Executive:

 

  • To write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking exactly how soon we can expect Government funding for public services, including but not limited to: The Revenue Support Grant to BHCC and all other Local Authorities; and funding for the Police service and other emergency services, to return to their 2009-10 levels.

To write to the Prime Minister to ask when we can expect the UK will review welfare policies2, such as the current form of Universal Credit3, and other policies that have disproportionate or adverse effects on women, children, and disabled people4.

[7] Scale of food bank use as measured by the Trussell Trust: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/29/report-reveals-scale-of-food-bank-use-in-the-uk-ifan

 

[8] Universal Credit rent arrears in Brighton and Hove: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/16326532.people-on-universal-credit-struggle-to-afford-council-rents/






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