Ministers must fund local government properly or vital public services are at risk of destruction, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea warned today (Sunday).
Speaking at UNISON’s local government conference in Brighton, she paid tribute to the work public service staff did to help communities through the pandemic.
She said: “I know that workers in councils, schools, care homes, and in the community went above and beyond during Covid.
“Headlines may have told a story that schools and nurseries were shut, but staff made sure vulnerable children, and the children of key workers were looked after and educated.
“Our streets were cleaned, and our communities kept safe by committed workers in local government and other public services. They helped keep the wheels turning on the vaccine roll out. They were the glue that held us all together.”
She added that the recently submitted pay claim for council and school staff – a £2,000 rise at all pay grades or the current rate of RPI (presently 11.1%), whichever is higher – is not excessive, with inflation soaring and the country experiencing the biggest fall in living standards since the 1950s.
She said: “We know many councils are in serious trouble. Millions and millions of pounds worth of cuts over the past decade are to blame. Slashing public services damages and divides communities. When local government falls apart, communities fall apart, and lives are put at risk.
“Life without local government is hard to imagine. No libraries, having to pay a man and a van to take all your rubbish away, families and children at risk with no one to take responsibility. Yet all too often governments think it’s the first area to be cut.
“We need a Westminster government that funds local government properly and restores the money that’s been taken away, and above all it needs to pay staff a decent wage. Then they won’t have to rely on food banks, or the generosity of family and friends just to make ends meet or take on two jobs to feed their families.”
Notes to editors:
– UNISON’s national local government conference, takes place today (Sunday) and Monday at the Brighton Centre. Social work pressure and pay are among the issues that will be debated.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
Garfield Myrie M: 07950 116356 E: firstname.lastname@example.org