THE headline figures are startling. As many as 50,000 NHS workers, 28,000 police jobs and more than 250 Sure Start centres all face the axe under Chancellor George Osborne’s programme of cuts.
Add to that 450 libraries, the threat to 32 maternity units and the scrapping of the school building programme.
But the headline figures do not tell the whole story. The vast majority of the cuts are taking place at a local level, allowing the Government to escape the blame as communities lose much-needed services.
Take the decision last week by Hertfordshire County Council, which is cutting all the funding for Hertfordshire Action On Disability.
Or the planned axing of all 65 lollipop men and women in Dorset. Or the cuts to the budget to Conflict And Change, a community mediation service in the London borough of Newham.
These organisations may not be high profile but they can be deeply valued by the people they help.
Young people have been particularly badly hit. Cuts to university funding means higher tuition fees. Educational Maintenance Allowances have gone, as has support for employment and skills such as Train For Gain and the Future Jobs Fund.
Many councils are also withdrawing free bus travel for 16–24-year-olds, preventing them from getting to the training colleges which could provide them with the necessary skills to land the jobs.
Families are also suffering. A range of benefits specifically aimed at helping women and children are also to disappear.
The childcare element of the Working Tax Credit is being slashed by ten per cent, meaning that many working mums will no longer be able to afford nursery fees.
Child Trust Funds have been axed, Child Benefit frozen and the Sure Start Maternity Grant goes next April. Cuts to Housing Benefit could force thousands of families to move home.
No region of Britain appears to be immune from the Chancellor’s knife. This month, Merseyside Fire And Rescue Service, the West Yorkshire Fire Service and Greater Manchester Fire And Rescue Service all announced they would have to cut staff numbers, among them scores of firefighters.
Councils across England are reeling from the deepest fall in central government funding in their history. Birmingham has had to cut its budget by £200m.
The targets include social care services for the elderly and disabled. Nationally, research shows the proposed welfare reforms will see 3.5m disabled people lose over £9.2bn of support by 2015.
Yet George Osborne still claims “we are all in this together.”