Cambridgeshire County Council has just agreed another £25m of cuts and £10m of new charges to residents for 2018/19. Seven years of austerity have seen £268m of cuts to services, while the county council has raised council tax by a fifth, including a 5% rise this year.
Here are the highlights of the council's latest austerity budget:
- £25m taken from our children's centres, libraries, school transport, health services for the most vulnerable including those of us with disabilities, services for looked-after children and more
- £10m raised through fees, including charges for services
- £3m to go to a new smoothing reserve – never to be spent!
- Sell off of Shire Hall and talk of taking the council out of Cambridge
- Last year, Conservative councillors voted to increase their pay by 30% against the recommendations of an independent panel
Our county cannot take any more austerity
Cambridgeshire is the UK's fastest-growing county, yet it gets the third lowest amount of funding from the Tory government. The county council itself calls this 'a perfect storm'.
Our services are at breaking point
We call on the council to immediately draw up a 'needs budget' reflecting the cost of the public services our community needs, and to work with other local authorities to resist austerity. We call on you the people to join us in opposing austerity to save our vital services!
When I had my first child I didn't have any parent friends and I felt so isolated. The local children's centre was where I found my community. It was a real safety net for me and I don't know what I would have done without it.
Laura, Cambridge mum
- Plans to slash £900k from children's centres across the county
- Our children's centres could drop from 38 to 10
- Cambridge city could be left with just one children's centre
- No evidence to support the plans, says Cambridge City Council
- Impact on our families – particularly those in high need - is unclear
How can a world city of learning think it is right to cut free access to books?
Libraries are so important for children to enjoy and appreciate so that their reading continues into later life.
Residents supporting Save Our Books
- County council to cut £230k from our libraries
- Funding to be taken away from many smaller libraries
- Your library could close unless it is run by volunteers
- Council to charge us for services like computer use
- This comes after £325k of cuts to our book fund last year, which went ahead despite resistance from the Save Our Books campaign
Youngsters in Burwell have dropped out of their courses because they're unable to reach Long Road or Hills Road, due to inadequate, costly public transport. Some parents are able to fill the gap by using their cars but this only adds to the congestion. Cuts mean that youngsters can't fulfil their legal obligation to be in education or training.
Liz, Burwell resident
- County council to cut £766k from home-to-school transport for children in mainstream and special education
- This will hit our most vulnerable 16-18 year olds, who rely on help to get to school: 16-18 year olds have to be in school or training
- The Council says that those who have help taken away 'will need to make their own travel arrangements to and from school'
Health and social care
As a carer for my adult child, the thought of what lies ahead is dreadful. Austerity is morally wrong, causing irreversible damage and wrecking lives for spurious reasons.
Susan, Lode resident
- £440k cut from services to those of us with physical disabilities
- £3.1m to be taken away from those of us with learning disabilities, by 'reassessing' needs and closing residential homes
- £400k to be taken from mental health services
- £1m to be taken away from our older people
- £412k to be saved by 'reassessing' people's social care needs, and £278k raised by making us pay more for carers
Austerity is a choice
The coalition and Tory governments used the recession to justify their ideological plans to shrink the state, cutting taxes on companies and the wealthy, and selling off vital public services like the NHS. Today, the Tories continue to squeeze our public services nationally – and to shrink budgets for local councils:
- The government is cutting a key grant to local councils. In 2015-16, this grant was worth £50m. This year, it will be worth £4m. By 2020-21, the council expects to be paying money back!
- By 2017, the Government had already cut 67% of the funding it provided to local authorities in 2010, before the Tories imposed austerity on us.
- Councils face a £5bn gap between their income and the cost of running our public services.
- While cutting council budgets, the Tory government is handing them responsibility for more services, including public health.
We call on our council to oppose austerity
Northamptonshire County Council recently declared effective bankruptcy. In 2018/19, it will not have enough money to pay for the services it has to deliver by law. Other councils say they may soon be in the same position.
Cambridgeshire County Council cannot keep on cutting services. Our elected councillors must resist austerity. We call on the council to:
- Draft a 'needs budget' so Cambridgeshire can compare the cost of providing adequate services with the money spent on them today.
- Create a joint protest platform to oppose austerity with other local authorities.
What you can do to protect our vital public services
Join Cambridge People's Assembly and fight austerity. Follow us on social media for regular updates on the impact of austerity and what we're doing to fight it. Search for Cambridge People's Assembly on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/cambridge to find out when our next meeting is.
This is the text of a new leaflet, printed under a slightly different title as 'A Perfect Storm: The Truth about Your County Council'.