Coalitions jaws of doom indicated for local authorities

photoIt’s alleged that austerity will now last until 2020 in UK. The coalition will continue to play the blame game but fail to recognize that it’s happening on their watch to be frank it’s becoming like scratch record and people are catching on to it now. Lets not forget that the chancellors announcement will be in a few weeks time so what will George Osbourne pull out of his hat this time to save his career? Er more of the same. Govt has disproportionately cut funding to councils with the highest mortality rates. How do they expect health inequality gap to close?

photo(1)There is no doubt that councils are suffering from coalition cuts throughout the UK which means councils will have to find alternative means of raising revenues to keep them afloat. Already we have seen council cut backs from a range of services we all enjoy. Sadly this will be the trend for the future like privatising our much like services such as our libraries, social care, leisure and parks to name a few.

Some how this does not help the poorest areas which will suffer the most whilst the most affluent areas will get the cream of the crop I kid you not. There will always be winners and losers no matter whichever political parties wins be it local or general elections. There have been some suggestions that the European Funding may save some of the council services. Me thinks not.

Jaws-of-doom-graph-repres-006Whichever incumbent political party wins the elections they still have to look at other ways to introduce the funding to local authorities for their fair share of the pie. For some reasons I can just imagine the wider picture for the jaws of doom in place and trade unions having a task to changing its way of campaigning to save their members job which is not easy as their members pay their union subs for trade unions to represent them during the good, bad and ugly times whilst they are employed.

Which leads me into saying that the coalition would rather channel all their energy to attack all trade unions with their affiliation to the Labour Party to divert attention away from them over the lobbying scandals which the coalition had three years to sort out.

More can be done to stimulate the economy by creating more jobs and investing more sustainable work programmes to get the long term unemployed as the current system is failing and the unemployed are still fighting with nothing to show for it. the coalition in my opinion won’t stand up to address this by implementing growth, jobs and business at the heart of their core values instead they play into the hand of coalition donors who wants to scrap the minimum wage and invest less into our council services. Just as much as Central Government has stationary duties this also applies to all councils throughout the UK and Wales. To be honest no matter how hard local authorities campaign to have more funding coalition will not cave in but instead are quite happy to use the mantra Big Society and “we’re all in it together”.

Lets see how this affects most services provided by the local authorities like lack of social housing which both previous and present governments still have fail to address. Instead the coalition has giving the free light to what I call to rogue planners which they would not be held accountable. My only hope is if we see a return of a Labour Government that they may reverse some of the planning laws that the coalition made whilst they were in office to allegedly boost growth.

Many people long for improvements in their council services as most have pay their taxes to build more roads, housing, better policing, street lightings, fire, leisure, and care services and schools.

Watching MPs try to get to grips with the internet is usually as embarrassing as watching your dad on the dancefloor. But calls to flog council houses on eBay aren’t just naive – they’re idiotic.

The net offers possibilities never before seen in history to communicate, collaborate and connect from the grass roots right up to the top. So it’s depressing that when asked to look at boosting “digital engagement” MPs can look no higher than buying and selling – and via the tax-dodging likes of Amazon, too.

What on Earth do the MPs even mean? Are they suggesting that council homes should be sold off to the highest bidder rather than to their occupants?

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the authors of this report have never even switched on a computer themselves. But worse than that, their half-baked proposal is a solution to a problem we don’t have.

There is no crisis of lack of “engagement” with the right-to-buy scheme. There are no masses of council tenants clamouring to be allowed to buy their homes on eBay.

But there is a desperate shortage of housing. There is a crisis of rocketing rents, of damp, crowded, run-down private accommodation, and of exploitation by unscrupulous landlords.

And there are masses of ordinary people crying out for change. Millions of households can’t afford a mortgage amid the house-price bubble. Millions can barely afford the rent.

Millions want a decent, affordable, secure home – the kind which used to be our right until Margaret Thatcher started flogging off the nation’s assets.

“Digital engagement” is a complete irrelevance. What we need are new homes – hundreds of thousands of them.

Not “social housing” nor “affordable housing” nor any of those other fudges, but council homes. Homes built by the public, for the public, and owned by the public.

Thatcher did her best to destroy council housing, but she failed. Now it’s time to rebuild a system that offers the only solution to Britain’s great unaddressed crisis.

We’ve seen strange echoes of the run-up to the 1997 election from the Labour leadership lately.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls tells Newsnight he would maintain Tory Chancellor George Osborne’s spending plans for 2015-16. Then he extols the virtures of “tough fiscal rules” and “big and painful choices” as a way of dealing with the deficit.

Gordon Brown said as much back in the 1990s, in very different economic circumstances. The Labour government that followed decided public spending on infrastructure was best funnelled through private finance initiative (PFI) schemes – which we are all paying for now. Indeed, our grandchildren’s grandchildren will still be paying for these schemes.

Ed Miliband seems to be trying to slip into the same new Labour groove – gaining a perception of “responsibility” in the eyes of the financial press and populist right-wing tabloids.

His Newham speech last week did contain some good points. He correctly pointed out that unemployment was expensive, and that we need more decent jobs on the living wage or more.

He specifically pledged that Labour would invest in council housing as a primary way of dealing with the housing crisis.

But there were also unpleasant deviations down the road. Miliband pandered to the Daily Mail’s obsessions, immigration and social security.

There was no clear undertaking on upholding the right of family reunion being undermined by the current government, with its shocking minimum earnings requirements for a British national who wants to bring non-British national family members here.

There was no challenge to the appalling approach to asylum that the coalition takes.

And there was little progress on the question of social security or benefits cuts, with Miliband echoing Balls in demanding caps on social security spending.

Receiving benefits is not a lifestyle choice. Being forced to rely on social security can happen to anyone if they lose their job or have an accident.

The “reforms” to the system being introduced by Iain Duncan Smith have terrible consequences.

The cap on housing benefit is causing the social cleansing of whole areas of central London and other major cities, as private-sector tenants who need assistance to pay sky-high rents are forced out.

The cut in tax credits means real poverty for many families.

And the bedroom tax is unnecessary and unjust, punishing some of the most vulnerable people in the country as they are told to downsize to unsuitable, and often non-existent, houses. It is causing real misery. One woman has killed herself.

Suicides have also been among the dreadful consequences of the “fit to work” interviews being forced on all people with disabilities.

In the face of Duncan Smith’s assault and the Tory-led “debate” on benefits our response must be robust.

We, the labour movement, believe in a society where everyone is prevented from falling into destitution or homelessness, and where children do not risk growing up in absolute poverty.

The Con-Dem reforms have removed the safety nets that stopped these things from happening.

Tory Britain’s answers to poverty are food banks, rough sleeping and children who come to school hungry and wear hand-me-down clothes from charity shops.

Instead of demolishing the Tory welfare myths, Miliband proposes that we cap social security spending.

What this will amount to in practice is very unclear. It is impossible to know how many people are going to be unemployed, rendered homeless or destitute at any given time.

The whole point of the welfare state is that we can offer protection when these things happen unexpectedly.

Labour therefore needs urgently to develop alternatives that excite and motivate people so we can defeat austerity and win the next election.

We might take a leaf out of Civil Service union PCS leader Mark Serwotka’s book. In a recent article he outlined his union’s 10-point plan to boost the economy.

It includes breaking the pay freeze to put more money in the pockets of public-sector workers and increasing the minimum wage to do the same for all workers.

It suggests introducing rent controls to reduce spending on housing benefit and protect tenants, investing in infrastructure to get the economy moving and improve services and maintaining real public ownership of the banks so we can control our own money.

It points out we could save billions at a stroke by cancelling the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system, and we could collect tax from the very richest people in the country, closing tax loopholes and shutting down tax havens – especially those we’re responsible for such as the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and other British Overseas Territories.

The political lessons of the austerity packages imposed by the European Central Bank (ECB) on southern European countries are harsh.

The once all-conquering Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) of Greece has all but disappeared from political view as it tries to impose the ECB’s wishes.

The Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) was heavily defeated at the last election as it attempted to placate the ECB to stay in the euro.

This cowardice in the face of the bankers’ demands has left six million Spaniards without work and three-quarters of the country’s young people searching for work.

No-one can pretend it will be easy to deal with all the problems this government is creating and will lump the nation with long after 2015.

But we can start with something far better than encouraging yet more debate over the alleged waste of the welfare budget and instead focus our attention on the criminal injustices being foisted on modern Britain.

All over the country workers in the public sector are losing their jobs and being replaced by contract workers, or private-sector staff whose wages are lower, working conditions more precarious and job security non-existent.

We must be alert to the deep political agenda which runs through Osborne’s fiscal manoeuvring.

This is a brazen attempt to rejig our society in favour of the richest and most powerful and to permanently disempower the majority and the poor.

It’s a war we have to win.

On June 22 the People’s Assembly will take place in central London. By last week so many people had already registered for it that organisers had to mount a successful (after some obstructionism) appeal to Westminster Council to close the road alongside to erect an overflow marquee.

Anyone who has campaigned against public-spending cuts, for the cancellation of Trident or to protect hospitals and public services will know where the public mood lies.

It’s up to the labour movement to ensure that the alternative is one of a society that prioritises dealing with the blight of inequality, not in following those who would slavishly placate the masters of a system which has caused all our problems in the first place.


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