The attack on public services

On Saturday, I spoke at the Emergency Public Services Summit in Newcastle. 

The summit was organised by the Northern Public Services Alliance. It was an opportunity for union members to respond to the scale of the onslaught on public services. 

The event coincided with the release of TUC research that showed that all but one of the councils in the North East will have had cuts in funding higher than the English average, both this year and next.

But the Tory-led government’s mission to shrink the state and cut back the services we all rely upon is not confined to the North East. 

Slashing the funding that councils in each region get from central government has seen libraries, swimming pools and youth centres close, with charities forced to cut back on the help they provide to the community as councils are forced to slash their funding.

And it’s not just services, it’s people’s jobs too.

We hear much from government ministers how the private sector is rapidly creating jobs to replace the ones axed in the public sector. But the problem is that these new jobs are mostly of the low-paid, insecure, zero-hours variety.

No wonder so many families are still struggling to get by despite the upturn in the economy.

With inflation falling, pay in the private sector has started to recoverm but nurses, dinner ladies, teaching assistants, midwives and other public-sector workers have suffered years of wage freezes and their pay being held back. 

There is no question that public service workers are still paying a heavy price for the recklessness of the bankers all those years ago. 

The stark reality is that the situation is going to get worse if the Tories have their way. They have already pledged to reduce public sector spending to the level of the 1930s if they are re-elected. 

It is up to all of us to make sure that by the time people go to the ballot booths in May, they understand what another five years of a Tory-led government would mean.