Councils at breaking point – highlighting the damage

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2019 Local Government Service Group Conference
22 February 2019

Conference notes that cuts to local government services are biting ever deeper and deplores the damage they are wreaking on local services and our members who work in them.

The impact on our members includes job losses, increasing severity and complexity of service user needs, and reduced pay and terms and conditions. Our members are increasingly pressurised into ‘doing more with less’ and to take on increased workloads, leading to higher rates of work-related stress and sickness absence.

The social care system is in crisis, and women are bearing the brunt of that crisis. The majority of the care workforce –paid and unpaid – are women, and the majority of those in need of care are women. There have been enormous cuts in adult social care – £7 billion has been cut from social care budgets in England since 2010. It has long been recognised that the funding of adult social care needs reform, and the government has said that it will publish proposals for reform, but these have been delayed repeatedly.

Meanwhile, the number of adults in receipt of these services has gone down by one third since 2013, and the number of people over 65 in England with unmet care needs is going up and is now estimated at around 1. 2 million (one in eight)

The cuts to local government services affect all local government members and we remain united in our call for fair funding for local government and our opposition to outsourcing and privatisation.

Conference acknowledges however that the cuts affect different groups of local government members in different ways. It particularly notes that cuts and privatisation have a disproportionate impact on equality groups, including Black, women, disabled and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers and service users, and will embed inequality in the workplace and in service delivery and society for years to come. It further notes that the findings of the NatCen Social Research LGBT cuts research in relation to the local government workforce included increasingly wide-ranging remits for equality work, which prove very difficult to cover, and LGBT equality and inclusion being increasingly seen as a buzzword with little value.

Conference therefore calls on the local government service group executive to:

1)Ensure that the disproportionate impact on equality groups is an integral part of the Save Our Services campaign;

2)Use the findings of the NatCen LGBT cuts research in campaigning against local government cuts and to recruit and organise around the impact of the cuts, working with the LGBT group to highlight the particular LGBT impact;

3)Further develop its recruitment and organising strategy to build union density across council services and organisation in services already privatised, and work closely with the self organised groups and Young Members Forum to enhance our recruitment and organising of Black, women, disabled, LGBT and young workers;

4)Continue to publicise the arguments about how cutting jobs and services damages local economies and the evidence of how privatised services are failing staff, service users and draining resources away from service delivery;

5)Continue to encourage local government branches to work with community organisations to campaign against cuts and privatisation, and support initiatives in the save our services campaign;

6)Continue to campaign for services to be brought back in house.