Local Government Reserves; employment and public services for disabled people

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2010 Local Government Service Group Conference
19 February 2010

Conference congratulates the East Midlands UNISON Region and Nottinghamshire UNISON Branch on their campaign to protect jobs and services and in particular their success in forcing the newly elected Conservative Council to delay the sale of residential care homes, retain community transport for 2010/11 and reduce planned increases in meals on wheels prices. Conference recognises the scale of the cuts still planned in Nottinghamshire as evidenced by the S188 notices affecting 418 jobs.

Conference notes

1)the unprecedented level of budget cutbacks that are currently being implemented by local authorities and the disproportionate effect that these reductions are having on adult and social care services and the impact these have for disabled people, elderly people or people needing local authority care.

2)that other reductions such as to library opening hours, mobile libraries, street lighting or road repairs can also have a disproportionate effect on disabled people

3)that council tax freezes or reductions are often accompanied by increased charges, restrictions on access to services or eligibility criteria, service reduction or cessation and that the ‘saving’ from a council tax freeze is often outstripped by the additional costs associated with the charges for a public sector service or the costs associated with finding a private sector alternative.

4)that those living in the most valuable properties save three times the amount saved by those in the least valuable properties from council tax freezes and those in receipt of benefit save nothing at all.

5)that local authority unallocated reserves totalled £3.351bn @ 1 April 2009 compared with £2.774bn @ 1 April 2005

6)that local authorities often fail to undertake either an Equality Impact Assessment or an Economic Impact Assessment before reaching these decisions which can have detrimental affects on improving the life chances of disabled workers and disabled public service users.

Conference is alarmed not just by the budget reductions that have taken place in 2009/10 but the scale of the reductions being written into the Medium Term Financial Plans where reductions of 10%-25% are commonplace.

Conference believes that is critical that proper economic impact assessments are undertaken before budget decisions are made looking not just at the overall impact on the local economy but the impact on neighbourhoods and individuals.

Conference believes that the economic and social case for retaining public sector employment to the individual, the community, the local and national economy needs forcibly restating and calls on the Service Group Executive to argue the case against council tax freezes and cuts and to utilise unallocated reserves to retain employment, especially of disabled workers instead of financing the costs of redundancies.