As the New Year starts we are only four months away from a General Election. As the political parties prepare their manifestoes it is clear that voters will be faced with a real choice.
Conservatives have signalled that, if they are elected, people will face cuts to public services which would take the country back to the levels of funding they were at in the 1930s. Cuts already made by the Conservative-led Government mean that the average worker is £1,600 a year worse off. Government cuts have also meant that Salford City Council has £100 million less to spend on our public services than we had in 2010.
Salford used to be able to provide adult social care services to people with moderate levels of need. Cuts from central government mean this has had to change. Like 9 out of 10 local authorities, Salford is now only able to offer care to people with substantial or critical needs. Salford is not alone in having to make such cuts to care, as £4 billion of cuts have been made to social care budgets across the country.
Conservative Secretary of State Eric Pickles has announced further budget cuts to local councils to take place next year. While Salford loses 3.9% of so-called “spending power” councils like Surrey will actually see their spending power increase by 3.1%.
It is an important reminder of the unfairness of the policies of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Government that they could cut funds to Salford while they increase funds to Surrey.
Communities already hit by the savage cuts imposed by this Conservative-led Government need to feel that any future changes to services will be made more fairly. On social care, Labour has promised changes which will see social care integrated with health care. Labour also promises to fund 5,000 more care workers to allow more time to care for people who are elderly or frail.
In 2015, people in Salford are faced with a choice of public services being cut to the bare minimum with Conservatives or a Labour Government working to protecting frontline services.