The scale of the cuts to Ealing Council’s budgets is unprecedented.
Over 30% of its controllable budget is being slashed by the Conservative led government over the next 3 years. This means £66m is being axed from our coffers with more to follow.
This decimating of our budget is a conscious choice by the Tories and LibDems in Westminster. They don’t have to cut this fast and this deep but they have chosen to with a chilling ideological zeal. Who can forget the cheering and waving of order papers by Tory and LibDem MPs when the Chancellor announced £81bn cuts in public services and a million job losses?
Yes the deficit has to be reduced but No it was not the previous Labour government’s fault. In 2008 the world financial system was within a hairs breadth of going over a cliff and causing a devastating and prolonged world wide depression as a result of the greed and irresponsibility of bankers. As banks tumbled like nine pins in a crisis only rivalled by the Great Crash and subsequent 1930’s depression Gordon Brown took decisive action to prevent an economic catastrophe.
This required unprecedented levels of borrowing but was undoubtedly the right decision. Under Labour the recession had fewer job losses, house repossessions and business bankruptcies than previous lesser recessions under the Tories, a depression was avoided and economic growth began to return. Under the Tory led government’s plan to pay off the deficit in 4 years economic growth has now fallen, public services are being destroyed and unemployment, VAT and prices are rising. Labour’s plan to halve the deficit was a much wiser plan and would not have had the devastating impact on local services that we are now experiencing.
So where does that leave Ealing Council? Struggling to protect frontline services and being forced to make Tory cuts on an unprecedented scale. Amongst this carnage however we have been able to stick by our principles and are fighting to protect the most vulnerable - the elderly, the disabled and the children and young people. We have also fulfilled our manifesto commitment to freeze Council Tax in the first year thus helping all the Borough’s hard pressed residents as they battle rising living costs.
We have protected care packages to the most vulnerable elderly and disabled residents. We have not closed down any of our Children’s Centres. We have protected our youth service from the cuts. We are investing extra money in our Apprenticeship scheme and due to demographic pressures an extra £45m has been allocated for new school buildings to provide Primary School places.
Shamelessly the local Tories and LibDems have been totally silent about their national parties brutal cutting of local government services, have opportunistically jumped on every band wagon to oppose the more difficult cuts we are being forced to make without saying where they would make the cut and have taken to inventing stories about our decisions in a similar vein to “EU straight banana” stories.
Tories and LibDems in local government up and down the country have criticised the levels of cuts to Councils but our local opposition have not said a word and have silently jumped in line with their national masters and then had the audacity to criticise the cuts we are being forced to make. They criticise our decision to cut Park Rangers and Enviro-crime officers but the alternative would be to cut care packages to the most vulnerable. They have distorted the story about the Council saving millions of pounds by installing smaller desks into Percival House and thus allowing an extra 400 plus staff to work there, for a cheap headline. And how in all conscience they can criticise our decision to pay Social workers a little more to attract the best to Ealing to protect our most vulnerable children and avoid a ‘baby Peter’ scenario is beyond my understanding.
Their Parties are responsible for these savage cuts and local people should never forget that.