Branch Secretary : info@housingworkers.org.uk
  

Unite policy on council cuts not supported by Labour councils

Cost of living crisis

 

Our survey of Labour councillors was unable to identify any councils committed to Unites policy on needs based no cuts council budgets. The branch wrote to over a thousand Labour councillors in London alone.

 

At a time when vital services have been cut to the bone and the cost of living crisis forces workers into poverty on a scale not seen for many decades it is disappointing that no Labour council was prepared to commit to Unite policy on protecting council services.

 

No cuts budgets

 

At the last Unite policy conference a resolution was passed unanimously stating “Conference agrees that Unite must now adopt a policy calling on Labour Councils to set legal, balanced no cuts needs based budgets.”

 

 

As we reported last year “It is estimated that Local authorities will implement £1.3bn worth of cuts in next year. Whether the jobs of our members are directly threatened or not we are all affected by the cuts. Many of our member's jobs are dependent on local authority contracts and unless there is a concerted, organised fight back it is clear that councils will seek to pass on the cuts to their outsourced services as well.”

 

Deaths of homeless people rise by 80%

 

The Tory led Local Government Association has warned that homelessness services will need a 27.2% increase in funding simply to maintain existing service levels over the next three years. Recent research shows that deaths if homeless people have risen by 80% over the last two years, illustrating just how inadequate current services are.

 

Unite is committed to supporting candidates that commit to Unite policy and we have reaffirmed this with a branch resolution, but as we approach the council elections in May, it seems no Labour council has made such a commitment.

 

We wrote to every Labour councilor in greater London and Labour councilors outside London where our branch has a significant presence including, Brighton, Oxford and Bristol offering campaign support if they supported Unite policy. Most councilors did not respond at all to our offer, some gave limited but welcome responses, none were able to commit their council or Labour group.

 

Hackney strike

 

Notably no councilors in Hackney where Unite members have announced a strike on pay responded.

 

It is estimated that Local authorities will implement £1.3bn worth of cuts in next year. Whether the jobs of our members are directly threatened or not we are all affected by the cuts. Many of our member's jobs are dependent on local authority contracts and unless there is a concerted, organised fight back it is clear that councils will seek to pass on the cuts to their outsourced services as well.

 

Anti cuts candidates

 

The argument that nothing can be done does not stand up.  Local authorities in London alone have seen their joint reserves increase by £1.2bn over the last year. General reserves held by Labour councils throughout England and Wales stands at £15.32bn, there is £2.07bn in their housing revenue accounts and £2.59bn in the usable capital receipts reserves. 

 

We will be fighting to defend jobs and services and we will be backing Hackney Unite members. We will work to support anti cuts candidates where possible.

 

The establishment politicians have failed workers and working class communities but we are commited to fight back to defend jobs, conditions and services.

 

Paul Kershaw

 

10 April 2022

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