Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/651/10809
Raking in the cash
AT A time when millions of Londoners face massive attacks on their public services and 30,000 council workers face the sack, London councillors have their noses in a £32 million expenses trough.
Their basic allowances in the last year have risen in 19 out of the 32 boroughs in the city. While many council workers are paid just 37p an hour above the national minimum wage of £5.93 and are suffering a pay freeze (ie a pay cut), most senior councillors receive over £50,000 in allowances.
In three of the poorest boroughs, the directly elected Labour mayors of Newham, Lewisham and Hackney took home, £78,844, £78,835 and £75,846 respectively.
Newham is the sixth-most deprived borough in England, Hackney is the most deprived borough and has one of the highest rates of child poverty in London, whilst Lewisham has the third-worst rate of unemployment in the country.
In all of these boroughs, like many areas in Britain, councillors are pushing big cuts through. Earlier this year Lewisham's mayor, Steve Bullock, following a lobby of anti-cuts protesters told them to "get real". It's Steve Bullock who should get real. If he thinks that working and middle class people in Lewisham will readily accept £60 million cuts to services and attacks on their jobs, then the £78,000 a year mayor is in for a shock.
Councillors from across the political spectrum are cashing in on these expenses. Axe man to the London fire service, Brian Coleman rakes in over £100,000 as a Tory London assembly member, chair of the London fire and emergency planning authority and Barnet councillor.
In contrast, when Socialist Party members Ian Page and Chris Flood were councillors in Lewisham, they consistently voted against increasing councillors expenses while leading the struggle against cuts in the borough.
Councillors who argue they will lose their position if they vote against cuts are likely to be motivated in part by the financial benefits of being in office. Instead we need councillors like Ian and Chris who are prepared to lead a fight against the cuts and only accept necessary expenses. We fully support those anti-cuts campaigners looking to stand anti-cuts candidates at the first opportunity.
- Councils in England face a massive 27% cut in spending over the next four years as a result of cuts in central government funding, with 'front loaded' cuts of up to 10.2% in the poorest areas in the first year. 140,000 jobs are expected to be axed due to these cutbacks.
In The Socialist 15 December 2010:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students