Thursday, 14 February 2019

Westminster has financially emasculated our local councils.

For the most part neither the Conservatives nor Labour at Westminster  are really concerned with the make up of UK councils.

The days of Ken Livingston's GLC  are long over and whether the Tories look at this as an example of how the GLC shows how socialism works or some among Labour saw it as a flagship , these days councils have been financially
 emasculated, that any ambition by a council to make social change is virtually impossible.

Austerity has been used by the Tories to further this passing down cuts either directly to English Councils or indirectly to Wales, and Scotland via their devolved legislatures.

In this they were aided by the Liberal Democrats the one UK wide party  that still sees local government as the way to build up its support and by populist politics win seats in Westminster.

The Tories however have taken the cuts further some regarding even Libraries as elements of "State Socialism" , they have seen that one of the examples that people saw the effects of Austerity was the closure of their local Library.

They personally may not have experienced the savage cuts in Social Services , but even if they, did then the Westminster hope that it would be the local council that is blamed has to some extend been proved true .

Indeed we in Tory councillors in opposition, attacking cuts that are actually a result however indirectly of the policies of Cameron- Clegg, Theressa May and indeed Blair/Brown before them.

Wales Online  report that

"People are paying more council tax than ever before but getting less for their money.The value of Welsh Government grants to councils has dropped by £918.5m in 2017-18, compared to 2009-10.
Councils in Wales get their money from the Welsh Government, who in turn get their money from the UK Government.In a bid to plug the gap, councils have put council tax up but, despite rises across Wales it has not filled all the shortfall, leaving councils with £577m less in 2017-8, compared to 2009-10, according to Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre.That works out at £232 less being spent on services for every person in Wales last year (2017-18) than in 2009-10.Council tax receipts now make up 19% of the revenue councils get.Over the nine financial years researchers looked at, spending on public services fell by 10.4% - the equivalent of £232 less being spent on each person in Wales.The key points from the report
  • School spending is £324 lower in real terms per pupil than in 2009/10
  • The amount spent on care for older people has also fallen by £157 per person in real terms in the same period
  • Children in care now cost councils £95.9m more than a decade ago - thanks to a 36.4% rise in the number of children in care
  • Libraries, culture and sport have faced vicious cuts of 36.3%Planning and economic development cuts have been even sharper at 55.4%
  • 37,000 jobs have gone in local government - equivalent to 19.95 of the workforce
  • That is fewer job cuts than in England where 32.4% of the workforce has been axed or Scotland where 20.6% have gone
There is also a warning that in future there will be large council tax increases and real-terms cuts to services.

Whether by chance or design BBC Wales report on Caerphilly  woes.

"The leader of Caerphilly council said the authority was "at the end of our tether" after his cabinet backed £14m cuts and a council tax rise of 6.95%.
David Poole said public services were "being killed" by reduced settlements from the Welsh and UK governments.
A cash increase of £549,000 from the Welsh Government for 2019/20 was deemed "miniscule" amid growing financial pressures on the council.
Another £739,000 worth of cutbacks were shelved in the face of public reaction.
These included plans to close community centres, scrap the community safety wardens and close two household waste recycling centres, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Schools, social services, libraries, highways maintenance and public toilets are among the areas still facing cuts.
"We reluctantly went out to consultation with savings that we felt uncomfortable with," Labour leader Mr Poole said.
"We need to get the message out to the Welsh and UK governments that you're killing services that a hell of a lot of people depend on. We're now at the end of our tether."
Nicole Scammell, head of corporate finance, said the extra cash from the Welsh Government "would only cover about half of the pay increases for staff outside schools after this year".
  • She added that the list of "prudent" savings proposed was the longest recorded by the authority.
Ms Scammell rejected a call by the Plaid Cymru opposition group to use some of the authority's £110m reserves to balance the books as "foolish".
Plaid group leader Colin Mann claimed Labour was dealing the people of Caerphilly "a double whammy of soaring council tax and huge spending cuts of more than £73m" in the last six years.
The full council will be asked to approve the budget proposals next week".

I have always supported the concept of Decentralised Socialism , but that can only come about if our councils have both the powers and finances to do so. In exactly the same way this applies to the devolved legislatures of these Islands.

Trying to run any legislature  pr council when your finances are dependent on another , whether it is our Assembly or council.

We need a new approach on how we raise local government revenues and how they are spent and start from the bottom up in how we change the way we are governed.

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