we need a… People’s Budget Conference – 20th February 11am-3pm Ebor Court, Skinner St, Leeds, LS1 4ND MAP Everyone is welcome.
Over the last few years campaigners have repeatedly lobbied local councillors to oppose cuts to care homes, day centres and other local services. Time after time, we are told there is no alternative – it would be an illegal to set a no cuts budget. Yet this isn’t true – councils have legal powers they can use to buy time to build a movement to win the funds we need. Join us to discuss how such powers can be used and how we can unite to stop the cuts.Hosted by Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs and Leeds Unite Community branch – for more info contact Iain Dalton (Yorkshire Youth Fight for Jobs organiser) on 07809839793 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
No cuts myth buster
Doesn’t refusing to implement the cuts mean setting an illegal budget? No, unfortunately the debate in the mainstream media has become polarised between these two things as the only options. However, councils have various legal powers available to them
What are those powers? Councils can use their reserves to continue to fund services, they also can use prudential borrowing or capitalisation. Between the 58 Labour-led authorities with elections in May they hold £4.5bn in reserves, which if pooled would mean no authority would need to make cuts this year. This would give time to build a campaign to win back the funding stolen from our cities and towns by the Tory government.
How realistic is this, so far only a few councillors have refused to vote for cuts? It’s true that councillors who have voted against cuts are only in double figures. However, local government is going to squeezed further and further. Already some local authority leaders have said that they are running out of things to cut!
Have councils defied the government in the past and won? Councils in Poplar, Clay Cross and Liverpool, in the 1920s, 70s and 80s respectively, have all defied the government over cuts and won gains for the residents of those areas in the past.
But weren’t councillors there removed from office and surcharged? In Clay Cross and Liverpool, yes. However, the powers to surcharge councillors now only exist in cases of corruption, so couldn’t be used against councillors fighting the cuts. In both Clay Cross and Liverpool, those councillors removed from office were replaced by a ‘second eleven’ of new councillors who supported their stand.
Couldn’t the government send Commissioners in to run the council if they don’t implement cuts? The government does have powers to send in Commissioners to any council it sees as failing in its ‘best value duty’. However, ultimately this is a political decision. The only council where the full powers to take over an authority was used has been in Rotherham, an authority mired in a child sexual abuse scandal. In response to being asked why he didn’t use his powers in regards to Liverpool council in the 1980s, ex-government minister Patrick Jenkins replied ‘How do you get commissioners past half a million people, and how do you get them out again?