Blog: Local government staff are at breaking point

This week, the Prime Minister claimed that austerity is over – which anyone who works in public services, or relies on public services, will know to be untrue. Our hospitals are forced to do more with less. Our schools are stretched to the very limit. And local government staff, perhaps hardest hit by a decade of cutbacks, are at ‘breaking point’.

Earlier this year we conducted a survey of UNISON members working in local government, and the response was overwhelming with over 21,000 people taking part. They story they told was compelling, and serves to reinforce the damage done by consistent, brutal cuts:

  • 9 in 10 council employees are not confident about the financial situation of their employer
  • 8 in 10 (79%) are not confident about the future of local services
  • 67% don’t think local residents receive the help and support they need at the right time
  • 49% are thinking of leaving for something less stressful

Half of local government workers – vital providers of services we’re all reliant on – thinking about leaving their roles because they’ve become too stressful. The vast majority fearful for the future of local services. This is a disastrous situation – but it’s one that UNISON has long warned about, and which the government have chosen to exacerbate at every turn.

It would be understandable for those who provide these vital public services to fall into despair after such treatment, but together in UNISON, we’re fighting back. Recently we’ve drawn attention to the dire state of local government funding in our report Councils at breaking point, and we’re using this to campaign for more money for local councils in the Autumn Budget. Specifically, we’re calling for the surplus generated from business rates to be reinvested into local councils, and increased central government funding to local authorities – rather than the axing of the revenue support grant that the government have overseen.

In the run up to the budget, we’re asking UNISON members to speak to their local MP about the impact of local government cuts, and ask them to stand up for local services. It’s no longer good enough for politicians to give public services warm words but no support – it’s time for action, and funding, for local government.

You can write to your MP here.