Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Ministers Keep Pouring Fuel onto the Burning Injustice of These Cuts

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Ministers Keep Pouring Fuel onto the Burning Injustice of These Cuts

Article excerpt

IT'S easy to think your council doesn't do anything too life-anddeath. That was the political assumption, in many ways, underpinning the way local government cuts have been carried out in Whitehall over the last decade.

Town halls have always been the least glamorous corner of our political system anyway, so it was simple for ministers such as Eric Pickles to slash away with impunity, taking more out of that department than any other, leaving local politicians to take the blame.

To say that was short-sighted is an understatement. Because when councils are working properly, they stop crises becoming crises - not only for individuals, but for governments too.

Take three of the key problems for which ministers have recently had to find extra money because they're getting out of hand.

Into the NHS, for example, the Prime Minister has ploughed extra cash as public anxiety has risen over queues at A&E and falling standards.

Yet the crumbling social care system - council-run, chronically underfunded - is driving much of that crisis, resulting in people ending up in hospital or staying there for longer, unable to get help in other ways.

Or homelessness. Lately, ministers - who had been wellbehind public opinion on the crisis - have ploughed millions into new initiatives aimed at getting people off the streets.

From Manchester have than Yet latest figures showed another rise in rough sleeping: because they are reacting to the problem, rather than preventing it.

The council's job, at one time, was to catch people before they fell. To provide the debt advice, the housing support, the crisis payments and the addiction services that used to or Tameside been cut more Oxford or Surrey.

prevent someone tipping over the edge into destitution. Now it can't. Then there's policing. Rising knife crime has now become enough of a headache for the government that Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced an increase to police funding - including, very kindly, allowing local areas to charge us more in council tax, once again devolving the blame to town halls. …

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