Download the latest leaflet for printing and distribution
Tue 25 Jan - Lobby of County Council Cabinet Budget Meeting from 8 AM, Shire Hall, Castle Hill
Sat 12 Feb - Cambridgeshire Against the Cuts Demonstration, assemble 12 noon, Parkers Piece
Tue 15 Feb - Lobby of Full County Council Budget Meeting from 8 AM, Shire Hall, Castle Hill
In Cambridgeshire, we are starting to see the true impact of the Coalition’s ideologically driven cuts. The County Council are set to make £160m cuts; 450 full-time County Council jobs are at risk, with many more part-time jobs threatened. With area-based grants to local authorities cut by 27%, those services targeted on the most disadvantaged are in the front line: schools, children’s social care, family support and youth services, which account for 45% of the Council’s budget.
Sure Start has already lost national funding – 40 Children’s Centres in the County await their fate. Cuts of up to 80% for youth services will decimate provision for our most vulnerable young people. Many Connexions services are closing leaving young people not in education, employment or training [NEETs] without support; all grants for hostel-type projects have been cut removing a safety net for the homeless; the ending of the Future Jobs Fund, Activity Agreements and Entry to Learning pilots; threats to family courts and the Youth Justice Board – these cuts will hit children, young people and families hardest.
Add to this the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance [EMA]. There are presently 4,519 16–19 year-olds in our region in receipt of EMAs (nearly a third of all students in FE in the County). City MP Julian Huppert may have stood by his pledge to vote against tuition fee rises, but called EMAs ‘beer money’, highlighting the chasm that exists between politicians and young people struggling to stay on in education without placing extra burdens on their families. £30 a week can make all the difference, providing money for transport, materials, books and lunches. By comparison, Cleggs ‘Pupil Premium’ (down from £2,500 per pupil in the Lib Dem Manifesto to £430 in government) and the rising tax threshold together will only amount to a paltry £3.25 a week gifted to schools not to students.
Meanwhile Andrew Lansley South Cambs MP and Health Minister is on a breakneck mission to privatise the health service. Hinchingbrooke Hospital has just been handed over to a private company to manage, with big private companies looking to move in on NHS services. Mental Health services face cuts of £20 million a year.
Of course cuts affect more than those who rely directly on these services. Cuts to services cause job cuts resulting in the loss of experienced and skilled staff in the public and voluntary sectors. Unemployment affects whole families and communities, putting further pressure on reduced social provision. This is the ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ society envisioned by the Coalition government.
But we don’t have to accept this. Students have led the way in fighting tuition fee rises and opposing the scrapping of EMAs. A courageous group of young Cambridge EOTAS students, teachers and parents have challenged the removal of funding to their school. And direct action against tax avoiders and evaders has put a spotlight on the £120 bn a year lost to the Treasury. School sports and the Book Trust have had a reprieve, largely due to opposition by celebrities, but we can all make a difference if we stand together and fight.
The next few weeks and months are crucial.While government caves in to the banks, giving them the go-ahead to pay unlimited bonuses, and invites tax avoiders onto government committees, there IS an alternative. Join us in the events listed below and help show the County Council that we don’t accept the view that we should pay for a deficit we didn’t create. Let’s make sure they hear our voices.