Further to Northamptonshire County Council declaring itself bankrupt in February this year, the macabre reality of Tory austerity has come to knock on a door much closer to home. Last week East Sussex County Council became the latest to declare a financial crisis.
It comes as one in ten local councils have warned they could run out of reserves within the next three years trying to manage increased demand on dwindling resources. Councils have lost one in two pounds in real-terms funding since relentless Tory cuts began in 2010.
Our most marginalised communities are paying the price for almost ten years of relentless cuts to local councils from the Conservative Government.
East Sussex will now begin to cut back services to the legal minimum. Many of the most vulnerable, from the elderly to children, will find themselves no longer qualifying for council support. The announcement prompted Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, to warn that local council funding cuts could have ‘catastrophic consequences’ for vulnerable children. If we needed more evidence that the cuts agenda of the Conservative Government has failed, the Conservative leader of East Sussex has even started a petition calling on the leaders of his own party to provide ‘fairer funding.’
A recent report from the National Audit Office revealed that a further 15 councils are also at risk of bankruptcy. Yet the Chancellor Philip Hammond has told councils to prepare for another round of cuts – complete madness!
We need a different approach. Greens continue to push the Labour Council to put the evidence about prevention being better than a cure ahead of their concerns about making savings in this financial year.
Our city has already paid the price for the failed austerity experiment. Despite being mocked by the previous Labour leader of the council for taking our protests against council cuts to the Treasury, we will once again take our opposition to cuts to Government ministers. Brighton and Hove residents deserve our valued public services adequately funded for the future.