More details have emerged of the government cuts in Leeds. Three quarters of the Council's income comes from central government grants, so when David Cameron and Nick Clegg decide to pull the plug in London, Leeds City Council has no choice but to follow their instructions. These will be the biggest cutbacks since the 1920's and are likely to throw many thousands of Leeds people out of work.
The government says that Leeds City Council spending must fall by £90 million in the next financial year (2011 -12). The following year they will be back for another £90 million, on top of the sums already cut, and the same again and again until 2016. People haven’t seen anything yet. There will be no reductions in Council tax because they are only cutting government grant. People will pay the same money locally for a greatly reduced service.
These government cuts are completely unnecessary. Many other countries have much higher levels of debt than the United Kingdom, and the government's obsession with the National Debt risks turning a minor slump into a full blown recession. Britain's debt was much higher in the past (as a percentage of the National Income) when the economy was working reasonably well. The present downturn was caused by stupid greedy bankers lending to people who could not repay their loans. The government should now be spending more, not less, in order to keep people in work.
The Council hopes that most reductions in its own workforce can be achieved through early retirements and voluntary redundancies. There will also be a freeze on recruitment and job losses at private contractors who work for the Council. We will try to protect services to the public, but there are bound to be cuts in Adult Social Care. The number of older people is rising as the post war baby boom reaches retirement age. Many will expect help from the Council, for example aids and adaptations to cope with disability, but government cuts mean that money simply won't be there to pay for these.
Young people will also suffer from the Con – Dem government's obsession with cuts. They will inevitably mean fewer teachers, larger classes, and older buildings retained beyond their working life. The government has even tried to cut school sport. There will be fewer University and College places, and courses will be more expensive, adding to the burden of student debt.
The so-called deficit is more or less equal to the money squirreled away each year by individuals and companies using offshore tax fiddles and numbered Swiss bank accounts. If rich people paid their fair share of tax we would not need any government cutbacks, and everybody could keep their job.
Last updated 03 January 2011 at 21:42.
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