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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Gideon Squeezes Harder

A minor element in the News today is the information that local authorities are braced for more cuts to their allocation from central government. This is particularly important because for several years local councils have not been able to make compensating increases in local taxes and charges - notably rates - when government cuts the direct funding of their budget for things that the councillors consider it important to deliver to their constituents. Within the past week the government has tried to remove the 'nice little earner' of penalty charges for parking from the array of sources: that will get the coalition partners a few votes in May at the cost of real human misery.

The coalition government had previously offered most local authorities the sop that if they do not charge more in local levies, the state will make up some of the deficit from central funds. Now the pruning of the national expenditure has reached the point where the Chancellor can no longer push some pennies in their direction and tell them to make do with that.

Soft services, starting with libraries [again] will be cut back. Care for the aged and disabled will be rationed more tightly. School maintenance programmes will again be delayed. Jobs will be held open for longer, and more vacant posts will quietly be frozen. As always, the spin spivs have stories ready with which to claim that the modern world is coming to the rescue of the old: this week's example is that there is a prospect of getting a computerised national libraries ticket, so that anyone from anywhere can go to a town whose library has a book that they want to read, and borrow the copy. In this world of funding cuts and petty theft, ensuring the security of the stock under such a system would be hugely expensive; and insuring it would be unaffordable. Most people do not have the IT skills, the energy, the time or money for the fares to be able to access such a system; and the costs of running it remotely after the cuts would be prohibitive.

The Tories claim that future cuts in public spending will have to be greater than those so far made by the coalition if the deficit is to be cleared; and that the pace of cutting will have to be speeded up. Labour also promise cuts, but in a much gentler pattern that would never lead to ending the deficit on annual spending by the state. Either proposal would result in massively worse public and social services. The reduced police force would be had-pressed to monitor dissident movements or to contain riots.

Whatever comfortable view of British society David Cameron has adopted from Eton, Oxford and the Witney constituency stands to be corrected quickly and brutally. Milliband may have a slightly fuller perspective from the very limited time that he has spent in his northern constituency, but he has no preparation for the realities that will scream for redress if the present destructive policies are continued.

The comfortable notion that the ghettoised majority of Muslims who hold British passports will maintain 'British values' as tighter bounds are set to the benefits system will not survive for much longer: and their lack of empathy [or even of passing acquaintance] with their 'white' fellow-disbeneficiaries will exacerbate tension that will too easily be dubbed 'racist'.

Oh dear!

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