Another Tory austerity budget means the hardest hit will suffer
02 November, 2018
Cllr Richard Watts
• AFTER this week’s Budget, it’s clear that Tory austerity is alive and kicking. Despite promises from the prime minister that “austerity was over”, the Budget confirmed that cuts to councils, including Islington, will continue.
Islington Council has been one of the local authorities hardest hit by the government’s austerity agenda. Since 2010, we’ve lost 70 per cent of our core central government funding. Next year, we’re facing another government cut of £7million to our core funding, and by 2020 we will have lost £275million.
Despite this, we’ve kept all our libraries open, maintained care for older people and continue to provide free school meals for all nursery and primary school pupils. But it’s not been easy, and the government shows no sign of changing course to help councils like Islington.
It’s also shameful that the government is clearly imposing these cuts to councils in a politically motivated way. Next year’s further cuts of £1.3billion to councils will see Labour-run councils lose more than £60 per household on average, with Tory-run councils losing less than half of that.
Labour councils serve some of the most deprived areas of the country, but despite this the 20 councils facing the largest cuts next year are all Labour-run.
While I am deeply concerned about the impact of continuing cuts on the council, this latest austerity budget will see under-funding hit other important parts of the public sector and support which local people rely on.
Islington has lost 300 police officers since 2010, thanks to cuts of more than £1billion to the Metropolitan Police. Shamefully, the budget didn’t include any new funding for frontline local policing.
Our schools are set to lose funding equivalent to the cost of providing 99 teachers. Rather than invest in our young people’s future, the government paid lip-service to the concerns of parents and failed to address the cuts schools face.
We also saw the clamour for urgent changes to the deeply unfair universal credit, which will see families in Islington lose more than £600 a year on average, fall on deaf
It’s clear that we need a Labour government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, to end austerity, invest in public services and to support local people.
We will continue working hard to make a difference for local people, by making the borough a fairer place for all. But this task was made harder, yet again, by another Tory austerity budget.
CLLR RICHARD WATTS
Labour leader, Islington Council