Festive Cuts and the Merry Alternative

Its that festive time of the year when the ongoing cuts to public services bite hard for many people in Leicester, who struggle to heat their homes, let alone attempt buy presents for their loved ones. The Leicester Unitarian’s recognise this when they note that there are “those among us who may perhaps not find the joyous festival of Christmas quite as meaningful as it has always been.”

Without having the joy derived from the Unitarian’s firm spiritual foothold on the world, they acknowledge that many are left with “only an expensive and difficult time.” A problem that is being aggravated by the chairman of the Leicester Unitarian’s congregation, that man we all love to hate, the City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.

This is because, with just a few weeks to go before Christmas, Sir Peter has delivered his latest nicely-wrapped package of cuts to the city. This special annual surprise coming with the release of his dull-sounding draft document, titled “General Fund Revenue Budget 2015/16 to 2016/17.”

With the socialist ghost of Labour’s Christmas past having been long reconciled to the dustbin of history, this Christmas the public are being further burdened with more unwanted gifts from New Labour. Although gifts is hardly a befitting term, given that it is we the citizens of Leicester who are being expected to hand over resources (that rightly belong to us) to the super-rich by accepting massive ongoing cuts in the provision of the vital public services that we fought so hard to obtain in the first place.

Labour now rests content in demonstrating their servility to the unjust status quo by accepting the Tory’s lies that there is no money left in society to fund our public services. But, displaying a clear understanding the public’s reluctance to stomach such toxic gifts, Labour do their best to festoon their festive cuts in vacuous rhetoric. Swingeing cuts to well-loved and desperately-needed public services are now grandly referred to as SAVINGS.

Sir Peter thus explains that so far, since 2011, “£85m per annum of savings have been approved.” The draft Budget for the coming financial years therefore documents how “further substantial savings” must be made. This process is lovingly referred to as Labour’s “spending review programme,” which will see a further £35m saved per annum, with Sir Peter and his friends “anticipat[ing] that £25m of additional savings will be required by 2018/19.”

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One nice-sounding way that Labour proposes to help the elderly deal with catastrophic cuts to the Adult Social Care budget is by “Promoting the independence of customers, so they will be less reliant on statutory social care.” Likewise, “efficiency measures” will be enforced which will “include a reduction in use of in-house transport by maximising independent travel, a reduction in the safeguarding and commissioning teams, and an introduction of a £5 per week charge for managing an individual’s finances…”

With regards to their managed decline of Public Health services, Labour puts a nice spin on SAVINGS by boasting that this provides an opportunity for them to “consider its public health duties holistically” — and given the reduced amount of funding available they are keen to use this as a “opportunity to reshape services…” The new shape that such services will exhibit in the long-run does not form a pretty picture in the minds eye.

As ongoing media coverage of the Labour Party’s national policies illustrates, Labour have no intentions of punishing those super-rich elites who caused the financial crisis, like by making them pay the tax they owe, or by taking their exploitative businesses under some form of public ownership. Thus Sir Peter’s Labour budget similarly accepts a future of cuts, and more cuts, noting: “It is not assumed that cuts will cease after 2018/19…”

As the Leicester Labour Party falsely accept the necessity of public sector cuts they have devised what they called a “managed reserves strategy” to allow them to pass on the cuts with all the finesse of a timid hairdresser. Managed reserves refers to their stockpiling of millions, with their estimate that they will have amassed £48m in general reserves by April 2015.

So instead of doing away with all our public services at once, Sir Peter and his Labour buddies attempt to make the cuts delicately (as if that was even possible), ever hopeful that we the public won’t recognize that we are being left bald in the cold until it is too late to do anything about it. They say that “this policy has ‘bought time’ to more fully consider how we address the substantial cuts we are facing.”

Apparently our Labour Council is doing all this to help us, in order “to reduce the burden of cuts required in both 2016/17 and 2017/18 in a way which avoids a ‘cliff edge’ situation in 2017/18.” But what they neglect to mention is that this “cliff edge” is already upon us, and that the people of Leicester are now looking for a political party to avert this disaster, not make our imminent descent off this perilous precipitous somehow less worrisome.

This lack of political vision on the part of Labour explains why so many people now refuse to vote in elections, and why in the forthcoming elections many will vote for the one very well publicised political party that presents itself as anti-establishment, UKIP. But while UKIP’s anti-establishment credentials are laughable upon closer analysis, the mainstream media do little or nothing to explain this to the public, while doing everything in their power to exclude genuine political alternatives to austerity and cuts, like TUSC, from the electorate.

This is because all TUSC candidates support a clear ten point program to defend the interests of the working-class against the depredations of the super-rich. So in relation to the question of cuts and the use of the Council reserves, TUSC, as do Leicester Independent Councillors Against Cuts (Barbara Potter and Wayne Naylor):

“Vote for councils to refuse to implement the cuts. We will support councils which in the first instance use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to avoid making cuts. But we argue that the best way to mobilise the mass campaign that is necessary to defeat the dismantling of council services is to set a budget that meets the needs of the local community and demands that government funding makes up the shortfall.”

If you agree with this policy and all the other demands of TUSC then consider joining with us and standing in the elections next year to fight for a better future for all.

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