- Created: Thursday, 30 March 2017 10:19
- Written by Michael MacGregor
The Scottish National Party and the Labour Party both say they are against austerity without any evidence to support such claims. On the contrary, both parties are putting legality before supporting social services. As an SNP councillor in Angus rural council stated: 'At this stage the only assurance I can give...is that we will deliver a legally balanced budget. I can give no further assurances about services.'
Both parties have lined up to pass cuts budgets for 2017/18 across councils managing the news carefully to conceal the full impact on workers and services ahead of municipal elections:
- Edinburgh's joint SNP and Labour council are cutting £40m.
- SNP-controlled Angus rural council are cutting up to £15m and 170 social care posts are under threat, part-time working and privatisation of services are planned.
- Glasgow's Labour council are cutting £35m while having arrogantly directed an illegal scabbing operation at workers striking against privatisation.
- The Labour Party in Dundee's SNP council voted through £12.5m in cuts, and are privatising services.
- Labour run North Ayrshire are not reversing £4.8m in cuts planned by the previous SNP administration that could lead to 350 compulsory redundancies.
- Clackmannanshire SNP council are also considering compulsory redundancies.
- Labour-run South Lanarkshire Council will cut £19m on top of £100m in previous years.
The last municipal elections in 2012 delivered an evenly matched number of councillors across 32 councils: the SNP had 32% of the vote giving them 425 seats, with Labour gaining 394 seats on 31%. Such near-symmetry is matched by their brazenly false anti-austerity rhetoric.
In February, Dundee's Unite the Community activists and Dundee Against Austerity organised a series of showings of 'I, Daniel Blake' across the city in communities directly affected by poverty. Hundreds attended these events and it was learned through discussions that foodbank usage had trebled over the last three winter months – one local foodbank is the busiest in Scotland. The battle against austerity, against the endless cuts budgets and for socialist justice and democracy is directly against the SNP, the Labour Party and this ruthless Conservative government.
Cuts to Social Care in Scotland
Whilst councils across Scotland continue to impose cuts it is the most vulnerable section of the working class in the most precarious position who continue to bear the brunt. The Scottish government’s 2017/18 draft budget will cut the local government budget set for the previous year by £327m. The general revenue grant, the budget for the day-to-day running of services, is to be reduced by £355.5m. As a consequence, Glasgow council will cut £53m from the budget for 2017/2018 and social care will bear the biggest share with departmental cuts of £14m.
The attack on the working class in Scotland grows bolder with the latest austerity measures. Social workers are being asked to cut care packages through the process of annual review. Upper management within the councils will instruct social workers to ‘review’ people’s care packages with the aim of reducing service provision. If a social worker’s assessment of needs generates a budget which the council considers to be too high the worker will be grilled by a ‘Resource Allocation Group’ to defend their judgment.
How do the cuts to social care affect the people who rely on services day-to-day? People who experience mental illness face an increased likelihood of their care package being reduced due to cost-cutting assessment tools that have been developed predominantly for people with physical disabilities in mind. Young people with additional support needs making the transition from school can expect to sit on long waiting lists due to limited availability of day centre places. How do the cuts to social care hit the workers who deliver the services? The Scottish Government has listed funding of £250m for social care as one of their key policy initiatives. Social care funding is ring-fenced to help pay for the recently-agreed £8.25 Scottish living wage for care staff. Whilst increased wages for grossly underpaid care staff is to be welcomed this is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The absurdity of the social care system under capitalism is expressed in the contradiction whereby increased wages for care staff are paid for by reduced care budgets for the very people who depend on services they provide. The RCG in Scotland is holding stalls in Glasgow and Edinburgh to call for an end to these oppressive cuts and this morally bankrupt economic system. Come and join us.