Thursday, 2 February 2012

Derbyshire County Council Cuts - letter to Derbyshire media

Dear Editor
It’s a grim time for Derbyshire. 600 jobs and £25m cut from Derbyshire County Council.  Beyond the numbers this means cuts for social services for older and disabled people, cuts to children's centres and cuts to youth clubs.
Let us be clear, painful cuts are the reality of the Government’s austerity agenda. It is a choice they did not have to make. It is an agenda that leaves the vulnerable on their on whilst the bankers who caused the crisis reward themselves with another multi-billion bonus pool bonanza.
The Government insists cuts are necessary. This could not be more wrong. These cuts are not only hurting our communities they are hurting our economy. The Derbyshire Unemployed Workers Centre has seen a five fold increase in the numbers coming through their doors struggling with the economic climate. And yet Derbyshire County Council has cut all their £34,000 funding. This is economics of the madhouse.
Centres like the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers Centre need active support from government. These are the services that can get our economy moving. Slashing and burning vital services is simply self defeating. We must escape this downward spiral
Rather than austerity and self-defeating cuts we need a change in direction. We need:
A more sensible timetable for deficit reduction: a realistic and achievable
10-year plan, bringing the deficit down but not choking off growth.
Fair taxation: a permanent tax on bankers' bonuses, a stronger banking levy, a clampdown on tax havens and tax avoidance, cutting back on pensions tax relief for the richest one per cent of the population who earn more than £150k a year, and a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions.
A proper strategy for growth: helping people on low incomes increase their spending by a temporary cut in VAT, a reduction in National Insurance (NI) contributions or an increase in tax credits, fast-tracking infrastructure projects like house-building and road improvements, creating a smarter procurement strategy, setting up a new state investment bank and reforming the existing banks so that they serve the consumer, not enrich themselves.
Getting Britain working: creating a proper replacement for the Future Jobs Fund, reinstating the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) keeping young people in college rather than on the dole, increasing university places and introducing intelligent, well-funded welfare-to-work schemes.
More even distribution of wealth: taking action to address the inequalities of wealth in the UK by introducing a living wage, worker representatives on company boards, new methods of corporate governance, greater shareholder activisim, new systems of ownership, or a bigger role for unions and collective bargaining.
So, in the debate about Derbyshire County Council cuts let us remember that cuts to the most vulnerable are not only morally wrong but that they are economically wrong.
It is time for a change of direction in Derbyshire, the Midlands and across the country. There really is an alternative.

Yours sincerely

Rob Johnston
Midlands TUC Regional Secretary

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