We are told by the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council that there is no alternative but to make massive cuts to the Council services. That is simply not true.
Cuts are not an act of God, some sort of natural disaster that we must cope with. They are a deliberate planned process devised by politicians with a clear agenda of eliminating the welfare state.
At two levels there are alternatives.
Firstly at Government level. We are told the cuts must reduce the National Debt yet the National Debt has actually increased. Mr. Osborne does not seem to mind spending £100billion on renewing Trident Nuclear weapons, building two new aircraft carriers and giving a blank cheque to drop bombs in yet another useless Middle East War.
Billion upon billions can be wasted on nuclear power subsidies but money to meet rising demand in Health and Education must be held in check and those trying to exist on benefits must be savagely attacked with cuts. As for local Councils there is an accepted plan to phase out all Government support by 2019 and with it cripple the services they provide.
Many economists are clear that ‘Austerity’ is unnecessary and actually damaging to the economy. There is also a growing realisation that this is a very convenient excuse to undermine the caring society we have built since 1945. The government can decide that our priorities are not war abroad but care at home.
Second locally here in Oxfordshire we do not without question have to pass the burden of the grant cuts that have been imposed by Central Government onto the most vulnerable. We need first of all to ask if we can redeploy million from redesigning roundabouts, widening roads and building six new park and rides in new locations to using that money to help the sick, the disabled, the elderly, the homeless, and children who at the moment are the target for virtually all the cuts. Yes it might be nice to have a new industrial park in 2021 but we have hundreds of elderly people who need care now; hitting them and their carers with massive cuts is inhumane.
Although Labour and the Lib Dems have been in secret conclave with the local Conservatives and will move sham budgets moving a few hundred thousand around but accepting the premise that the vulnerable must be made to suffer with £361million pounds worth of cuts, the Greens will propose a real alternative.
Firstly, immoral increases in councillor’s allowances (19% +) which they awarded themselves last year must be reversed along with the average 23% increase given to senior officers the year before. How can you give more when they are organising less? County Hall should be made accessible for hire when not in use and far more can be done to save money with senior officers working with other local authorities. A few very small increases in charges could also generate many millions.
It seems from the public consultation that those who are in work are prepared to pay a little more on their Council tax to stop the cuts. We are suggesting that a 3% rise about the agreed level, a mere 74p per week more to the average ratepayer would generate enough money to save ALL the Children’s Centres, put back ALL the subsidy to rural bus services and provide something for the homeless. That tiny extra on the rates would in fact put millions back into Adult Social care for our disabled and elderly and stop cuts in the libraries and our children’s education.
There is an alternative to this madness …It simply depends if the politicians want to take it.
For more information contact Councillor David Williams.