TUC: Spending Review will make service quality “plummet”

23 Nov 15

The quality of public services is set to “plummet” if George Osborne continues with his plans to cut spending, a report by the Trades Union Congress has warned.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Spending Review, the TUC said funding reductions since 2010 had already undermined public service quality. If the chancellor goes ahead with plans to further cut spending by as much as 40% there would be less provision and longer waiting times.

Today’s analysis of the impact of cuts to date found that over half a million fewer adults were receiving adult care services in England in 2013 compared to 2009 as a result of reductions in local government funding.

Council spending cuts also resulted in the number of Sure Start centres falling from 3,631 in April 2010 to 3,019 in June 2014, while there were major recruitment and retention problems in the public sector.

The TUC added that further pay restraint would also make it a struggle for hospitals, schools and other essential services to keep their best and most dedicated staff.

The report warned ministers against “fixating on the size of the state” and argued that public money was critical to social and economic stability.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the report highlighted the importance of protecting and investing in public services.

“This government’s fixation with reducing the size of the state is the wrong political choice. Public spending is essential for sustainable long-term growth and for maintaining a cohesive society,” she added.

“A high productivity recovery needs world-class public services, which means local authorities, hospitals and schools need to be properly funded, not run into the ground.”

O’Grady instead urged Osborne to take the chance to set a clear vision to make the UK a global leader in infrastructure and jobs.

“It’s depressing to see how far behind other countries we are for high-skilled jobs, genuinely affordable homes for all, fast and cheap trains and universal childcare,” she said.

“If they can do better, so can we. But we have to invest like they do.”

O’Grady highlighted government proposals for tax credit cuts, which Osborne is expected to revise, saying this showed the wrong thinking.

“Shifting the cuts to Housing Benefit would not protect families on low wages because a million working households rely on this support to pay soaring rents,” she added.

“We need to reward work, and that means guaranteeing working families decent incomes through better jobs and vital in-work benefits.”

The TUC submission also called for the government to develop an industrial strategy, with the crisis that has hit steel producers showing why such a plan is needed.

Investing in services like transport, health, and education will also ensure that workers and their families have the support they need to make their fullest possible contribution to the UK’s economic prosperity, it added.

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