Back the TUSC May local election stand

Dan Smart, Branch Secretary, South Gloucestershire Unison (personal capacity)

We are in the midst of a social catastrophe. Multiple councils have now declared themselves ‘bankrupt’, opening the doors to government-appointed commissioners to make ruthless cuts.

Since 2021, six councils have issued Section 114 notices, including Birmingham and Nottingham in the past six months. One in five council leaders say it is likely they will also go under in the near future.

The notices commit councils to limit spending to the legal bare minimum. Our vital services – such as social care for adults and children, housing for vulnerable people, domestic violence services, libraries, education and public transport – cannot take any further attacks.

In Birmingham, the commissioners are introducing a 21% council tax increase, while cutting a huge £300 million from the budget over the next two years. Residents will in no doubt be extremely angry at having to fork out huge tax rises for appalling levels of public services.

None of the main political parties are exempt from blame for this crisis. The Tories take glee in pointing out Labour’s ‘mismanagement’ of local finances. While it is their party that has presided over a 40% real-terms cut to council funding between 2010 and 2020. Labour councils, on the other hand, have simply argued they have no choice but to pass on Tory cuts.

The Socialist Party points out that councillors do have a choice. They should set budgets that reflect the real needs of local communities, building a campaign for the resources required back from central government. The alternative, is to inflict even more misery upon ordinary people.

Ironically, Labour’s argument against this approach has been that they have had to make cuts or government commissioners will come in and take over. Instead they have done the Tories dirty work for them for years and ended up in exactly that situation!

It is clear that as well as councils going under, the whole political system in this country is bankrupt. There is more than enough wealth in society to fund quality public services for all. Bankers who caused the crash in 2008 have doubled their bonuses since then!

We urgently need councillors who will fight back and say no to all cuts. That’s why Socialist Party members will be standing with others as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the local elections on 2 May.