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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 October 2010

Disaster for local government

THE CON-Dem government's public sector spending review is disastrous for local government, with 28% spending cuts in local authority budgets, (real terms), over four years - more than double the 3% annual cuts previously demanded by the New Labour government.

By a Unison local government worker

The government claims that the schools' budget is protected, this is not the case. Increases of 0.1% are claimed. But this only makes sense if the Pupil Premium, a Lib Dem policy supposedly aimed at directing resources to schools in areas of social deprivation, is included. The Lib Dems originally claimed that this premium would be in addition to normal budgeted amounts. Schools will be worse off, and even schools in deprived areas will be worse off.

A major share of these cuts will be 'front loaded', and take effect early in the four year cycle, in 2011/12. This is a blatant attempt to diminish the effect of cuts towards the next general election, (assuming the coalition holds together for that long!)

Politicians of all main parties like to justify public expenditure cuts by saying that they will not affect frontline services. This is a false distinction, so-called backroom staff are essential, just as in the private sector.

But now even the Tory-dominated Local Government Association is admitting that these cuts will result in cuts to frontline services, and specifically refer in their statement on the cuts to services from "keeping children safe to ensuring that the streets are clean".

For local government workers these cuts will lead to redundancies, pay cuts and attacks on overtime rates, sick pay and other conditions of service. Unfortunately none of the main local government unions have a national strategy to oppose the cuts, relying on a branch by branch approach, as opposed to a strategy of national industrial action.

This means that militant, left-led branches will take action, and win or lose depending on circumstances. On the other hand weak, right-led branches will do nothing, and thousands of members will lose their jobs, or have their pay cut.

This is why initiatives like the National Shop Stewards Network are important, mapping out a viable fighting strategy for ordinary workers and encouraging union activists to keep up the pressure in their unions for fighting policies.

Local government will be a major battleground but ordinary workers will also suffer from cuts in public services, as schools, libraries and swimming pools close, and vital caring services are wound down. The opportunity will be presented to link public opposition to cuts with industrial action from local government workers. And in the municipal elections in May next year, anti-cuts candidates will oppose both Con-Dem and Labour candidates, who shed crocodile tears about cuts but vote for them anyway.

Despite weak national leadership from the unions, as the anti-poll tax campaign demonstrates, workers can act together and can defeat reactionary policies.

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In The Socialist 27 October 2010:

Anti-cuts campaign

Stop cuts through mass action

Thousands march against cuts

20,000 march in Edinburgh against cuts

Wales says: don't break the poor

Northern Ireland: build a new party

Police attack Bristol demonstration

Wave of protests against Con-Dem cuts

Join the protests

Socialist Students

Organise to stop education cuts!

Youth Fight for Jobs and Socialist Students day of action

Youth Fight for Jobs conference - 4 December

Step forward for TUC youth unemployment demo

Socialism 2010

Socialism 2010: Weekend of discussion and debate 6-7 November

Socialist Party feature

Mass action urgent against programme for poverty

Socialist Party news and analysis

Housing cuts will mean more evictions and social cleansing

Axeman Osborne slashes disabled people's benefits

Government bludgeons workers' pensions

How the rich beat the taxman

On your bus, IDS!

Bolton: Police brutality exposed

Franchising torture

Socialist Party workplace news

Victory to London firefighters!

BA bosses try to control union

Disaster for local government

Unite general secretary election: Right wing candidate on another planet


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