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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 July 2020

Nottingham unions fight council job cuts

  (Click to enlarge)

Jean Thorpe, chair, Nottingham City Unison (personal capacity)

Local councils are facing huge financial crises due to Covid-19, on top of government funding cuts since 2010.

Nottingham City Council's main grant has been cut from 127m in 2013 to 25m for the last financial year. In February, it was reported that since 2011 Nottingham has lost 529 spending power per household.

Increased spending during Covid-19, including areas of social care and housing homeless people, together with revenue losses from income such as car parking and use of leisure facilities, has created a perfect storm for council finances.

As a substitute to fighting for proper funding, Nottingham City Council embarked on a commercialisation strategy. It bought properties, such as in Newcastle, and it's not sure whether or not rental income losses from properties during Covid-19 have been included in its huge Covid-19 funding gap of 65 million.

Nottingham City Council faces other financial problems. It created a not-for-profit energy company, Robin Hood Energy (RHE), in 2015. Designed to try to reduce fuel poverty in Nottingham, the company has ultimately not been able to compete against the big six energy companies. The city council has loaned money to RHE on commercial terms. From April 2018 to March 2019, the company lost 23.1 million.

The council has also put at least 17 million into the redevelopment of the Intu Broadmarsh Centre. Intu has now gone into administration part-way through, and the council, which owns the freehold, has been handed back control of the site.

As has always been the case, the city council has chosen to pass some of the burden onto its workforce. It has just sent out letters to employees (apart from a number of exempted areas that are seen as critical council functions), inviting them to apply for voluntary redundancy.

Sweetened with an enhanced redundancy package (redundancy payments had previously been hacked back to the statutory minimum and over 1,000 jobs shed), the council is planning to cut 500 jobs.

Threats of further job cuts are likely, but the council admits that even these measures may not prevent it issuing a Section 144 notice, meaning that all but absolutely critical spending would not be allowed.

The political make-up of the council is overwhelmingly Labour with 50 of the 55 councillors. Of these 50, around 17 identify as being on the 'left'. However, scarcely any of the councillors have come out against either previous cuts/savings of 271.4 million from 2010/11 to 2019/20, nor against the budget in March 2020 that included cuts of 15.623 million, or, as yet, the proposed 500 job losses.

The main council unions are campaigning against these job losses. They are calling on the city council not to make cuts, using all available legal means, to campaign for a legal needs budget, to demand that central government fully funds Covid-19 expenditure, and that the government grant is raised to pre-2010 levels.

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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.
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In The Socialist 8 July 2020:


Workplace news

Fantastic virtual NSSN conference: "Fight for our lives and livelihoods''

Homerton hospital workers deserve equal pay and conditions

Jobcentre reopening: only union struggle will put safety first

Southampton UCU: election victory for combative rank and file

Tower Hamlets council workers strike against wholesale attack on terms and conditions

Nottingham unions fight council job cuts


News

Fight for every job, fight for socialism

Tory NHS betrayal

Young people have no choice but to fight the system

Leicester: End the scandal of sweatshop labour

Covid pandemic and Northern Ireland - workers must resist the bosses' offensive

1,600 less benefits if your job goes - while super-rich splash cash

Testing: Tories' 5bn gift to private sector

Johnson blames care workers for deaths

3bn green pledge: not enough for climate or jobs

Poverty rises again - especially for BAME workers

Them and us


No going back

No going back: Nationalise social care!


Campaigns

The best place to start - join the Socialist Party

Trans rights protests oppose Tory backsliding

Black Lives Matter - the fight is not over


International news

Hong Kong: The fight for democratic rights

Bangladesh: Stop closure and privatisation of Jute Mills


Readers' opinion

TV: The school that tried to end racism

Books that inspired me: The Fire Next Time

The Socialist Inbox


 

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