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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 February 2016

Councils have a choice: no cuts to jobs or services

Councillor Kevin Bennett, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Warrington Borough Council

Councillors in local government do have the power to resist the government cuts. The notion that 'there is nothing else we can do' is wrong.

Labour councils around the country are passing their budgets for 2015-16. But they seem to have forgotten their supposed core values: to protect jobs, services, housing and other amenities for workers and residents.

Councils have the legal and financial powers to delay cuts by drawing on reserves, using borrowing powers, and working with tenants and trade unions to avoid evictions and privatisation. This can all be done within the law and cannot be overruled by central government.

None of these policies mean setting a deficit budget, though that in itself is not necessarily illegal.

Reserves

It's true that some smaller councils don't have large reserves, but the bigger ones do. The combined reserves Labour councils are holding are enough to set no-cuts budgets in them all.

Funding for local councils will have dropped this year by 37% in real terms compared to 2010. But English councils still control budgets totalling 114 billion pounds, over one fifth of all public spending. They have responsibility for adult social care, housing, education support, transport, recycling and rubbish collection, libraries and other services.

That's a powerful position from which to organise a fightback.

What is to stop Labour councils coming together, pooling reserves and using prudential borrowing powers? Collectively they could refuse to implement a single further cut, creating space to organise a mass campaign to win the necessary funding back from central government.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 17 February 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Councils have a choice: no cuts to jobs or services

Junior doctors must stand firm

300 million to cushion cuts in Tory councils

Scotland: battle heats up against council cuts

US fears EU exit will hinder vulture privatisers

Liverpool fans score victory v 77 ticket hike

Record-high 170 evictions a day

Boycott ban

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

An open letter to John McDonnell from Tony Mulhearn


International socialist news and analysis

Irish election: fighting on an anti-austerity agenda


Socialist Party youth and students

Socialist Students conference 2016: Delegates enthusiastic and confident


Socialist Party workplace news

Doctors' strike 10th February - photos and reports

Rally to defend jobs in Northern Ireland: "We won't sit on the sidelines"

Library workers prepare to escalate strike action

Historic joint further education strike

Public meetings show readiness of workers to fight back

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Hands off the Butterfields estate!

Sheffield no-cuts People's Budget conference

Southampton: absence of Corbynism as Labour swings Tory axe again!

"Staines has never seen anything like it!"

Students, unions and parents unite to save Pent Valley School

"You can cut the cake but not our libraries!"

London lobbies against cuts to jobs and services


Readers' comments and reviews

If I had been in 1980s Labour, I'd have supported Militant

Socialist's anti-war art on show in Bradford

Poem: Journey

Letter: Brum Blairite


 

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Related links:

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triangleNorth London Socialist Party: How can a party for the working class be built?

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Labour:

triangleBirmingham Clean Air Zone a tax on the poor

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition:

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Local government:

triangleCan the 'Preston model' beat the cuts?

Warrington:

triangleCampaigners force U-turn over NHS privatisation

Councillors:

triangleEnfield byelection: We need councillors prepared to resist

Kevin Bennett:

triangleSupport Len McCluskey and United Left candidates before ballot closes

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