Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/611/8831
Saving jobs and services in Worcestershire
LAST YEAR Worcestershire county council announced £45 million cuts over five years with talk of job losses in all areas, including teachers. They also threaten that major 'outsourcing' - read privatisation - of services, could reach the point where services are no longer permanently provided by the council but "commissioned" by users when necessary.
Sean McCauley, Worcester Socialist Party
The council will employ consultants at a cost of £1.7 million to decide where cuts will be made. Trish Haines, the county council's £170,000 a year Chief Executive and George Lord, the £43,000 a year Tory council leader, should know that people will still hold them directly responsible for attacks on jobs and services.
Worcestershire's NHS faces the prospect of a £60 million funding gap by 2013/14. NHS Trust Chief Executive Paul Bates makes no bones about the need to cut even frontline jobs and services. Job losses have already started; temporary staff have been laid off and 100 managers sacked.
In the Defend Jobs and Services Worcester campaign, we opposed the redundancies, and have two simple solutions. The public sector is burdened with the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). For example, Catalyst, the PFI company that built Worcester Royal hospital at a cost of £82 million will be paid £720 million by taxpayers.
Bringing all NHS and local authority PFI buildings and schemes back into the public sector would save billions. One year's repayment to Catalyst is £24 million. Let Catalyst take a cut in profits before we take a cut in services. In addition, the local Acute Hospitals Trust which runs Worcester Royal took out a £25 million government loan and is still saddled with that debt. Couldn't Alistair Darling cancel the loan like he did on the toxic assets of RBS bank?
But the first attacks will come in the county's district, borough and city councils. Worcester city council reckons that by 2014/15 it will have made £4.5 million worth of cuts. But we believe this underestimates the scale of funding cuts that will be implemented by whoever wins the next election. Wychavon and Malvern Hills councils anticipate cuts of about 10%.
New Labour's response to the city council's 'emergency' £3.1 million cuts last year was to bemoan the Tory administration's incompetence in not making cuts earlier. Now New Labour says the city council should increase council tax further.
Worcester's working class people should not have to pay for this funding crisis through service cuts, further job losses or by council tax rising faster than inflation. A million young people are unemployed in Britain. With places like DHL, Bulmers and Joy Mining sacking workers, we can't afford more job cuts. In a recession we need better public services not services cut to the bone.
None of the main political parties are voicing our opposition to these cuts. It's high time working people had a political force of their own. We are calling for trade unions to take up the fight to force our councillors to agree a 'deficit budget' that meets the city's needs, and demand that the government meets the deficit. We need to build a campaign to mobilise working people against cuts and redundancies.
These cuts do not have to happen! Join our campaign and our Facebook group Defend Jobs and Services Worcester.
In The Socialist 10 February 2010:
Unison general secretary election
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
PCS young members
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
War and occupation