Unison: local amenities will close under Osborne’s spending plans

6 May 15

Trade union Unison today warned that council-run services such as youth centres, museums and pest controls will close across England if the next government implements the fiscal plan set out in March’s Budget.

In an analysis of the impact of proposed spending reductions, Unison said £12.5bn worth of cuts imposed by the coalition government since 2010 had already deprived many communities of facilities like swimming pools and libraries. Children’s centres and women’s refuges had also been hit by the reductions, today’s Austerity Audit report found.

If the plan set out in Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget was implemented by the next government, there would need to be a £26.6bn cut across government departments, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said.

Under these forecasts, total funding of Whitehall departments will fall from £338.6bn this year to £323.8bn in 2016/17, and £312bn in 2017/18.

Prentis said that, although Prime Minister David Cameron had claimed a Conservative government would only need to reduce spending by £1 in every £100 in the next two years, this level of reduction would amount to £4 cut in every £100 next year, and £3.50 the year after.

With the Conservatives having pledged to protect areas like health and education, a higher proportion of this would fall on local services, he added.

‘Such is the extent of the spending cuts in local government that many services are close to disappearing. If the Tories were to form the next government, the savage cuts they propose could well mean the end of many services – like pest control, museums, allotments, youth services and sports centres – that councils are not legally obliged to provide. And many local authorities would struggle to run statutory services like social care and child protection.

‘Local communities will be unrecognisable by 2020 if the Conservatives keep the keys to Downing Street. It’s time to give local government some respite from the austerity axe.’

According to the report, council funding from Whitehall has been reduced by 37% since 2010, and has led to the closure of 578 children’s centres, 467 libraries, 361 police stations and 300 youth centres across England.

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