We now know more about the cuts and changes being made by the Conservative Liberal Democrat Government which will deeply affect the lives of many thousands of people in Salford. The Tories are cutting too fast and too deep and hitting families and poorer households the hardest.
Their cuts will mean some 30,000 people working in the public sector across Greater Manchester will lose their jobs. Experts also predict 10,000 job losses in the private sector as councils and hospitals have to cancel contracts.
In the summer we were told that our Building Schools for the Future programme was unaffected but the Tories and Liberal Democrats are now forcing 40% cuts on that. Up to half our planned new or refurbished schools may not go ahead which will be a blow to the construction firms who would have done that building work.
The Government is cutting over a quarter of the City Council’s budget that pays for our teachers, police officers and care staff. Our Leisure Centres and Parks and even mending our roads could also be affected. I am very worried about the effect cuts may have on social care services from the council which frail and elderly people rely on.
Some pensioners and families with children will have cuts in help to pay their rent. This cut affects people who are working but on low incomes. If families cannot manage, they could be evicted and made homeless. Those who are made redundant will only get 12 months of help with their rent before they face cuts in support, even if they are looking for work but cannot find it.
Families with children are facing cuts in Child Benefit, a freeze in Child Tax Credit and less help with the childcare costs that help them to work. The Conservative Liberal Democrat Government is taking more money away from families with children than they are from the banks which caused our economic problems.
I suggest the Government looks again at a Robin Hood tax – making banks pay more tax to help vulnerable and poor people, not the other way round.
The Conservative Liberal Democrat Government’s plans for radical changes to the NHS have come under fire from GPs, nurses and their professional bodies. They are all criticising the plans, which they see as a threat to the NHS.
The Government is planning to abolish Primary Care Trusts like ours in Salford and to give control of the budgets for services to GPs. The Labour Health team are opposing this plan. It is the wrong reform at the wrong time and it will be expensive. A professor from Manchester Business School estimates that these changes could cost up to £3 billion – money that should be spent on patient care.
Most GPs do not back the Government’s plans - a recent survey found that nearly three quarters of GPs asked did not want these extra responsibilities. The British Medical Association said that the reforms risk undermining the stability and long-term future of the NHS. The Royal College of Nursing said the plans were untested and they pose a big risk to the future of the NHS. When doctors and nurses are saying the reforms should not happen, the Conservatives must think again.
The Government has also proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance, including a new medical assessment to cut the budget by £1billion. There is real concern about how this could affect disabled people and their carers. If a person with a disability loses their benefit, the person’s carer will also lose Carers Allowance. Some families will lose as much as £300 a month and it will be very hard for them to manage.
These Government proposals are wrong and they are badly thought-out. Another proposal is to cut Child Benefit for some families where one parent works while some families with two working parents will keep it, which is unfair. This is the first time that any Government has undermined the idea of Child Benefit being universal.
I am worried that other universal benefits such as Winter Fuel Allowance for pensioners will be next in line for cuts and I will continue to oppose such damaging ideas.