George Osborne’s Tory budget was nothing if not nasty. Among its many cuts, it was announced that Government Departments could have to make reductions in spending of up to 40%. That will, of course, include the Department for Communities and Local Government – and cuts there will have a direct impact on the lives of people here in Leeds. Taken together with the slashing of Leeds finance by the last Tory/LibDem Coalition government, this would produce a crisis situation. The prospect of such savage reductions led Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, to react strongly.
Thanks to the constant reductions in Local Government spending under the last government, Leeds City Council has already had to make savings of £248 million since 2010. Osborne’s extra 40% would include the Department for Communities and Local Government, which provides funding for local authorities. Full details of reductions for Departmental budgets from 2016 onwards are expected in November, with the full impact on Councils’ budgets expected some time after this. But more cuts are clearly on the way.
The results of those we’ve already seen are already crystal clear – including directly on local jobs. Last week saw the publication of figures showing that Leeds City Council’s workforce has reduced by 17% over the past five years, a reduction of 2,500 jobs.
Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s Labour leader, commenting on the job losses said
“We know that there is a real loss of experience and we are anticipating more cuts next year.’
She also warned of the dire consequences of continued cuts
“We have got a situation in Leeds where over 60% of our budget is spent on Adults and Children’s services. We are moving to a situation that if this carries on we don’t know where we are going to be able to go with the limited resource we have got coming in.”
Osborne’s budget had little to do with balancing the books. It was part of a deliberate and ideologically-driven rolling back of government activity.
Make no mistake, the sick, the elderly and the young of Leeds will be among his victims.