It amazes me, in this 24-hour news world that we live in, that a further £1 BILLION of cuts to our county councils doesn’t remain on the BBC front page until much past lunchtime! It feels a bit more important than some of the stories being picked by the editorial team instead!
Anyhow….these cuts will be utterly devastating for our population’s health and wellbeing and the “extra funding” for the NHS is simply not going to be enough to undo the damage. Local government will have lost 60% of it’s budget by 2020, with devastating consequences and no amount of local taxation will replace the difference, especially in poorer areas of the country. And just look at what will be cut:
- 58% of councils said highways and transport (including road improvements, streetlights, pothole filling)
- 47% said libraries
- 45% said early years and youth clubs.
- 44% ear-marked public health services like smoking cessation, sexual health, substance misuse
- 36% said children’s services.
- We will have far higher risk of road traffic accidents, especially for cyclists/motorcyclists (I’ve seen the effect of people hitting potholes and fracturing their spine).
- there will be less access to shops and leisure facilities for our poorest communities, meaning a worsening of the obesity epidemic.
- We will have increased social isolation and reduced learning opportunities for our elderly (therefore increasing risk of dementia and depression).
- We will have decreased social support for our young people, leaving them far more vulnerable to gangs and substance misuse.
- We will have less support for young families, struggling to cope and so less opportunity for parental support and an increase in Adverse Childhood Experiences – with devastating long term consequences for physical and mental health.
- Smoking continues to affect 1 in 5 people in a hospital bed, and is still the biggest cause of death in many parts of the country – yep good idea to cut that.
- Our drug crisis is rising exponentially, and we’re seeing an increase in STIs and yet councils will not be able to provide services to help.
- Children’s services, those vital safety nets that work to prevent serious safeguarding incidents will have to be reduced also!
There isn’t a council in the country that wants to make these cuts and the lack of foresight by the government to drive these further cuts through when the ones we’ve had already have been so deep, is utterly ludicrous. I’ve sat with council officers in tears over the choices they are having to make – these are people who love the communities they serve and are trying to do as much damage limitation as possible, whilst being left to take the blame.
What does it tell us? It tells us a few things. Firstly, there is a serious lack of joined up thinking about the long term consequences of these cuts. Save money now, but pay for it 5-fold in the future. Secondly, there is a genuine lack of concern for the poorer communities in our country. Thirdly, our current political model is broken and more than ever we need a politics of love/compassion. Fourthly, our current economic model is caput and cannot give us the regenerative and distributive future we need for humanity and the planet. I feel so despairing, sad and am grieving what this is going to mean for so many of our communities. We need to feel this pain and face up to this and find hope in reimagining how we might do things radically but necessarily differently. This piece in the Guardian is worthy of serious reflection: