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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 January 2019

Councils can fight cuts!

Trade unionists in Carmarthenshire lobbying their Labour council for a no-cuts budget in 2014, photo Scott Jones

Trade unionists in Carmarthenshire lobbying their Labour council for a no-cuts budget in 2014, photo Scott Jones   (Click to enlarge)

Mick Griffiths, Wakefield and Pontefract Socialist Party

Two years ago, Wakefield district's council declared that it could no longer guarantee service provision for even the most needy.

A report by the Centre for Cities has highlighted that Wakefield is one of the five cities and towns that have suffered the largest cuts in spending.

It sits among several northern towns and cities that made the 'top ten'. The worst affected areas are Barnsley and Liverpool. But a number of inner-London boroughs also rank highly on this dubious leader board.

This 'hardest hit' status will come as no surprise to Wakefield residents.

The Labour council has dutifully implemented Tory cuts with no resistance being offered.

The consequences are all too real. A recent council report pointed to a significant rise in homelessness applications. Health and social care budgets have been cut to the bone.

These cuts compound the crisis in our NHS. The Tories' 'sustainability and transformation' plans aim to push our health service further into private hands.

A recent council health scrutiny committee raised that funding was only really available for emergency and acute services - with little to nothing left for preventative measures!

Local government is under immediate threat. The government aims to reduce councils to being no more than administrators of contracts for private profiteers.

No-cuts budgets

Council budgets are currently being set. As of October last year, Labour councils around the country were sitting on 9.3 billion in general fund reserves.

Jeremy Corbyn's welcome declaration that Labour is now an anti-austerity party is seriously undermined while Labour councils continue to meekly impose central government cuts.

Councillors have a choice. They could use their reserves and borrowing powers to fund no-cuts, needs-based budgets. This would make 'for the many not the few' more than just a slogan.

Corbyn should call on councils to take this road. And he should pledge to restore the funding of any council which does - as soon as a Labour government is elected.

If Labour councils stood in solidarity with trade unions and communities to fight to defend our services, a mass campaign could stop these cuts. What's more, it could play a major part in building a movement that could force the Tories out and bring about a general election.

But if Labour councillors are unwilling to refuse to implement government cuts, they should stand aside for those who will.

Pro-cuts councillors should be prepared to meet a challenge from anti-cuts candidates at the forthcoming local elections, which the Socialist Party will be part of.

Join us to help build the anti-cuts struggle. If we fight we can win!

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 30 January 2019:

What we think

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Austerity out, Tories out

Tory on homeless: "tear down these tents"

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International solidarity with the struggle of the Sudanese people

Brazil: Hundreds die in avoidable dam collapse

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Germany: School student walkouts reject Coal Commission proposals

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PCS Left Unity chooses Chris Baugh - unite behind the left AGS and NEC slate

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Trade unions protect rail workers' picket line in Hull

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