Thursday, November 22, 2012

A bad week??

There have been a number of inter-related news pieces this week that will be of interest to Hackney activists and residents.
Firstly there was the research that revealed that Labour authorities are losing an average of £107.70 per person -  almost three times the £36.10 a head being lost at Tory town halls. And that Hackney comes top of the list of 10 worst hit (all Labour). Hackney Council in North London takes the biggest hit, losing £266.17 per person, followed by Liverpool on £252.45:
Then we heard how a New Economics Foundation report pinpoints how cuts are hitting England's most deprived wards, in London and Birmingham. The report noted that more than eight out of 10 children across Tottenham live in poverty, and this ward is one of the most deprived in England. Yet until recently, the charity of the church's largely immigrant, low-income congregation enabled the pastor, Alex Gyasi, to run an impressive schedule of after-school classes, a youth club, a cooking club and an in-house digital TV channel used to inspire young people to debate current affairs.
Published on Monday, the NEF report, called Everyday Insecurity: Life at the End of the Welfare State, emphatically rejects the suggestion that the most vulnerable and those with genuine needs are being protected....

The report says the services that are being lost are cheaper ones that keep people away from far more expensive acute services, such as A&E, homelessness support and temporary housing. These are real cuts, the report insists, and they will be paid for in human, social and economic costs:

And an Audit Commission report (Tough times 2012 - Councils’ responses to a challenging financial climate) also released this week, found that these are challenging and uncertain times for councils as they cope with the second year of the four-year Spending Review. The savings needed are lower in 2012/13 than in 2011/12, but the cumulative effect is significant for many.
The report finds that in 2011/12, councils largely delivered their planned savings and in many cases added to reserves. However, auditors reported that signs of financial stress were visible.
A sizeable minority of councils had to make additional in-year cuts, seek additional funding, or restructure efficiency programmes in order to deliver their budgets.
The report says that auditors are concerned that 12 per cent of councils are not well-placed to deliver their 2012/13 budgets. They feel that a further 25 per cent will cope in 2012/13, but may struggle in the remaining years of the Spending Review period. The report is the second in the Commission's Tough times series. Read our Tough times 2011 report:
And it was also revealed this week that in the three months to September, unemployment in London increased by 6,000 to 8.7%, and in other areas of interest:

· East of England: unemployment increased by 8,000 to 6.8%

· South East: unemployment increased by 6,000 to 6.5%

While unbelievably there are 8.1 million 16-24 year old unemployment nationally. See:
Charter for a Future that Works - TUC calling for action on the crisis of youth unemployment
But we cannot be surprised about the increases in unemployment levels when we are also seeing a huge drop in number of public sector workers. The number of workers employed in the public sector has fallen by almost 660,000 since the coalition Government came to power, with further cuts being planned, according to new research.
The GMB union described the cuts as the most "savage decimation" of public services ever seen. Almost 300,000 of the reduction have been in local government, a "considerably higher" number than original estimates, it said. The GMB warned of fresh cuts next year as health authorities and councils face "significant" new budget challenges.
The report was published as Newcastle City Council in the North East warned of at least 1,300 job losses as it looks to reduce its budget by £90 million. Most of the fall has been as a result of job cuts, although some posts have been privatised or moved out of the public sector from schools and colleges to academies, said the GMB.
The union said the biggest percentage fall in the number of public sector employees has been in the South West, at 86,000 (15.7%), with other falls including 84,000 in London, (10.1%), 80,000 in the South East (11.1%), 77,000 in the North West (10.6%), 59,000 in the East of England (2.4%), 56,000 in the West Midlands (10.6%), 54,000 in Yorkshire and The Humber, (9.6%), 45,000 in Scotland (7.2%), 43,000 in the North East (14.5%), 42,000 in the East Midlands (10.4%), 18,000 in Wales (5.2%) and 11,000 in Northern Ireland (4.8%):
An related to point above about youth unemployment - More than 42,000 Londoners have been put off applying to university after tuition fees tripled, campaigners revealed today as they marched through central London.
The National Union of Students said university applications from people living in the capital dropped by 10 per cent following the introduction of £9,000-a-year fees.
...The NUS figures show the steepest decline in applications was from people living in Hackney North and Stoke Newington, where the number trying to get into university fell 18 per cent.
In Islington North, Brent North, Beckenham, Croydon South, and Bethnal Green and Bow the number of applications dropped by 17 per cent. Liam Burns, president of the NUS said: “It would be at best naive and at worst consciously ignorant to say that fees have not played a part in this:
So in just a week we are seeing evidence of how local authorities, especially in less well-of areas (who just-so-happen to often vote Labour!) are really beginning to feel the effects of the governments Cuts agenda. We are also seeing huge decreases in the public sector workforce, which in areas such as hackney means a significant level of residents will be affected – either because they, or a family member, work in the public sector themselves, or because they are users of the services provided.  
But for young people, the situation is even worse – as there is an increasing number of unemployed and a decreasing number of vacancies, the public sector is no longer a career option and many cannot afford to go to university.
It really is shameful that the 7th biggest economy in the world should find itself treating its citizens in this way, and we must continue to resist this governments mad austerity plan before they drag us all back to the Victorian era!
Denis Lenihan

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