Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/796/18055
Derbyshire: 'Old Labour' cuts hurt just as much
Dave Gorton, Chesterfield Socialist Party
Derbyshire county council's recently elected Labour administration has announced £157 million of cuts over the next three years, attacking the most vulnerable in society.
Consultation over the cuts under the innocuous title of the "Derbyshire Challenge" has been launched with the council leader declaring 'we've got no choice'.
Councils do have a choice - fight or capitulate. Derbyshire is following the route of every other Labour council - abject capitulation.
The irony of many of these Labour councillors last year celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Clay Cross council struggle - when councillors held firm against a Tory government - is not lost.
Yet, the majority of Derbyshire's Labour councillors aren't high flying local businesspeople who came to the fore during the Blair years.
Many would class themselves as 'old Labour', mining stock politicians whose parliamentary heroes are the likes of Nye Bevan and Dennis Skinner.
But they have no clue how to fight. That is why Unite union leader Len McCluskey's attempts to 'save' Labour are way too late and forlorn - the supposed left wing in the party is not only forbidden under its structures from mounting an effective opposition, it no longer knows how.
'Finishing the job'
With Ed Balls' announcement that a Labour government will 'finish the job' of big public spending cuts, any Labour council that solely puts the blame on a Tory government is being disingenuous. They will be facing the same pressures from their own party in government.
£12 million is being cut from the adult care budget. This will include closing day care services, introducing a £5 per occasion charge for using transport to and from day-centres and increasing the level at which adults qualify for council care to 'substantial' need.
The amount people will pay for council care will increase from 50% of their Attendance Allowance/Disability Living Allowance to 60%, 75% or 90%.
Funding of housing-related support services which help vulnerable people to set up and maintain a home will be reduced.
Funding for personal budgets will be cut. Funding for voluntary sector care providers is being slashed as well. And, of course, there'll be job losses.
£6 million will be cut from the children and younger adults and £7 million from the economy, environment and transport budgets.
These include withdrawing free public transport and other cutbacks for school students with special educational needs, closing seven children's centres and turning off street lights.
At almost every turn, these cuts punish the underprivileged and ordinary working people the most. At the same time the council is raising council tax by 1.99% (to raise it by 2% they would have to hold a referendum).
This position is ridiculously supported by local trade union leaders who certainly haven't asked their members if, after years of falling pay, they're now happy to pay increased tax.
But it is impossible for this level of cuts to be made without a fightback. Socialist Party members in Derbyshire will be ready to play their roles in that struggle.
In The Socialist 29 January 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Stop London Underground cuts
Socialist Party workplace news
The Socialist readers' comments
Fight all cuts!
Socialist Party reports and campaigns