GMB Members To Hold Protest At East Sussex County Council (ESCC) Meeting Over Proposed £18 Million Cuts To Services For The Vulnerable In The County
The residents of East Sussex didn’t elect their councillors to simply balance the books. They will decide on whether the axe falls on the most vulnerable or not says GMB.
GMB members will hold a protest outside the full meeting of East Sussex County Council (ESCC) meeting on Tuesday 10th February when the council will be voting on proposed spending cuts that will impact on services for the county’s most vulnerable residents.
The GMB protest will take place between:
9 a.m. – 10 a.m. on
Tuesday 11th February at
Saint Anne's Crescent
GMB has also written an open letter to Councillors on East Sussex County Council ahead of the full council meeting and GMB protest. The text of the open letter is as follows:
I am writing this open letter to you regarding the budget plan that you are going to be considering at the full council meeting on the 10th February. GMB have listened with an open mind to your proposals and find the depth of the cuts proposed staggering with the range of services under attack quite unbelievable. The impact once again on the most vulnerable in society is a massive concern as adult social care takes the biggest hit.
We all understand that the big focus of council spending is on children's services and adult social care for the very reason that this is a big area of need in the county. Alongside this GMB appreciate the pressures on local government. However the ongoing proposals to restrict, cut and outsource leave us wondering whether the cuts mantra is an excuse to redetermine the nature of local government and what its here for?
To pick just a few low-lights:
- ADS care have to save £8+ million in 15/16 – for older people a reduction in personal budgets, less day service provision and less support in their homes translates to a pretty stark reality. The impact here is undoubtedly on quality of life not just for individuals concerned but their families and carers. All of this with a £1.4 million underspend last year. [The underspend was agreed and came primarily from the community care budget and individual care plans which makes you wonder what's left to cut?!]
- Reduction in budgets to support offenders and complex homeless, young parents and young people at risk with the likelihood of people presenting as homeless. Is this really the kind of mandate that can be voted for in terms of the apparent 'likely' impacts let alone the knock on effect in terms of health and safety, stress and well-being of entire families?
- There is a proposal to reduce the secondary behaviour support budget, with the possible impact highlighted by ESCC that there is a risk that the numbers of children out of school are likely to increase. This would impact on the TYS, social care and YOT, all of which are areas where there are proposed budget cuts. The proposed budget cuts for the TYS and YOT together amount to over £1.5 million. This clearly doesn’t add up and I don’t mean financially!!
- With regard to the Ofsted inspection – the proposal is to reduce support for schools who are at risk of an Ofsted category by 50% and those in a category by 25%. Throwing £800K at the problem last year in the wake of the Ofsted judgment and then withdrawing support now to make ends meet doesn’t tally and again needs questioning by elected officials.
Overall GMB is outraged at some of the areas deemed open to cuts which are detrimental from cradle to grave. I am pleased to see the proposed increase in council tax but would like the council to go further and take an honest open look as some areas of spending which seem immune to the attack. For instance you could request detail of how much East Sussex CC has spent on consultants in the last 2 years and why? Or perhaps demand East Sussex address the huge disparity between the authorities top earners while those at the bottom of the pay scale are not even on the living wage? The public need to be fully aware of the depth and breadth of what is being proposed and be given opportunity to have their say. In addition (as discussed with trade union colleagues at an early consultative meeting with ESCC on these proposals) representations about the specific needs of East Sussex as an area with a specific demographic that simply cannot sustain this level of attack should be made to government every which way possible. In terms of the reduction to training budget for staff and reduction in equalities activities for your information I will be forwarding details of courses that can be accessed through GMB's Education Project Workers team and would hope you will encourage and support ESCC in taking this forward to help alleviate cuts in this area.
In conclusion, and to reiterate an earlier comment, local government, and you as an elected official, has a role and a duty in these areas to protect and support. People are losing jobs and valued services which make a real difference to peoples lives are disappearing. Rationalisation yes, streamlining yes, but stopping support to people that need it most must be met with a no. Make your voice count on the 10th February and ensure that every challenge to these damning cuts is made or you will be doing your constituents an injustice.
GMB Organiser Rachel Verdin said, 'There comes a point when you have to say no more, and GMB members have reached that point. GMB members are asking the councillors not to accept these proposed spending cuts.
The role of local government is to support communities not drive the most vulnerable into the ground. When reviewing this year’s spending proposals the likely outcomes include increased levels of homelessness, more children out of school and the knock on effect this will have for the rest of their lives, reductions in personal care budgets for the elderly or those with disabilities which could mean the difference between living and just existing.
East Sussex has a particular demographic and we accept that that costs money.
Central government must be made to sit up and take note and local councillors have to stand firm. GMB is asking out local councillors to vote no when full council meets on Tuesday 10th February.
The residents of East Sussex didn’t elect their councillors to simply balance the books. They will decide on whether the axe falls on the most vulnerable or not.
GMB members will be holding a protest outside County Hall, Lewes between 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. prior to the meeting and we call on all residents to join us and demand elected officials serve the communities they represent justice.”
Contact: Rachel Verdin, GMB Organiser on 07931 796733 or GMB Press Office on 07974 251823.