14 Nov 2010

County cuts will hit deep

This is a ramble on all sorts of cuts issues...I'll start with an email from a local resident that has been sent to me - she wanted me to put on this blog that she is giving up voluntary work that could be completed by paid workers as part of her protest against the cuts. She goes onto write: "I definitely will not be doing any voluntary work that has a Social Work element or in replacement of Library Staff or Youth Workers."

Photo: Poster re event in Stroud and below London demo against cuts

Well I am still trying to digest what the cuts will mean. There is a lot of talk and discussion - see 'label' below for many previous blogs and letters on the cuts - but before I touch on the County cuts don't forget:
March Against The Cuts: Sat Nov 20th assemble 10am at Gloucester Park, Gloucester.

Also don't forget Mary Mellor is coming on 2nd December for which looks set to be a very popular event. See poster at top of this article for details about how she considers this financial crisis has come about. Should be good and put in context all the cuts we are now facing...

Here are some notes sent re the Glos County cuts:
1. To save £120,000,000 over 4 years.
2. 1000 staff to go
3. All open youth work to be discontinued (Youth Clubs) and staff to be made redundant.
4. Libraries - Stroud Library to remain, fully staffed, Nailsworth Library to become a 'link' branch with a paid person 1/2 day per week and the remaining opening hours to be covered by volunteers. Minchinhampton Library to be handed back to the community - no paid staff.
5. The 65 County-paid police officers to be discontinued over a 2 year period.
6. Subsidised bus services to be dramatically reduced.
7. Grammar and Faith schools will not have subsidised bus travel for new entry from September 2011.
8. Drastic cuts in road safety and capital road building.
9. The only growth will be in the service for the elderly and those with learning difficulties (all living longer), and landfill.

Meanwhile, according to new analysis from nef, David Cameron is running the risk of undermining his own vision of a Big Society (see my letter re Big Society and the demos at Big Society events here). They argue that the speed and scale of the cuts to public spending are leaving civil society with an impossible job to do: most voluntary sector groups simply do not have the resources and support to take up the service roles left empty by cuts. The Big Society is the social policy that makes the economic policy of deficit reduction politically possible. But the cuts will make it impossible to realize the best ideals of the ‘Big Society’. The cuts and the Big Society together mark the end of the post-war welfare state. nef is concerned that unless adequate public resources are invested in support for community-based organisations, the gaps left by a retreating state will be filled by those with the loudest voices, best connections and biggest bank balances. Read more here.
"Politically there is a strange twist for the environmental movement. For decades greens have been told that the message to consume less and live better is an impossible one to sell. "Less is more", went the rule, was just bad politics. Yet somehow, in a different context and with much more dubious reasoning, this is very close to the message that the coalition government have sold to the public."
Andrew Simms, nef (see more here)
Housing benefit cuts

Oh one article in The Citizen that annoyed me lots was by Tory MP Mark Harper - he suggested the cuts to housing benefits are fair. Over a million households will be effected. Fair is certainly not a word many of us would use. Indeed some, like Johann Hari in The Independent, have argued that these housing cuts are the ugliest of the cuts. I have already covered my concerns re this move on my blog and the impact in Stroud - see here.

Yes reforms are needed - I was recently pointed to the
'Building and Social Housing Foundation' (bshf) and have found their ideas very interesting - see here.

Basically the Coalition's policy will trigger an exodus of poor people from their friends, schools and neighbourhoods in many of our cities. Even Boris Johnson called it “Kosovo-style social cleansing.”

Let us not forget the reason why we have so many poor people in private rented accommodation, much of which is expensive. Under both Tories and Labour we have been selling off our stock of council housing. Instead of investing the proceeds in building more council homes, they were frittered away on tax cuts for the wealthy. It has caused a crisis in social housing. The only humane option in the short-term was to pay rent for people. We should instead begin a serious program of building social energy-efficient housing. This would mean many new low and average income jobs and a boost to local economies.
Ah well I'll no doubt return to this in the future...

Still no news on cutting coal subsidies

As a complete aside I am interested to hear whether there will be cuts to subsidies to oil, coal and gas! Yes that's right we subsidise climate changing fossil fuels - subsidies for oil, coal and gas sectors were six times higher than those for renewable energy in 2009 accoring to the latest International Energy Agency (IEA) assessment - Ending government subsidies for fossil-fuels is surely the best way of cutting demand and stopping rising carbon emissions from the energy sector - see here.

Anyhow more blogs on cuts in coming weeks - do excuse this rather 'rambly' blog but have been interupted by phone calls, coffee, two deliveries at the door and more...

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