COUNCILS in England have been forced to cut almost £11 billion from their budgets in the first two years of the Tory coalition government, it was revealed yesterday.
This is according to data published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on local authority spending.
Unison, the union which represents council workers said: ‘The south-east has not been spared, with Kent County Council copping a £186m reduction in support from central government. Hampshire County Council was whacked with a whopping £80m hit, with Medway Council’s support slashed by £59m and Southampton City Council’s income down by £17m.’
The union warned: ‘Far worse is yet to come following the spending round in 2013 and the Chancellor’s announcement on Monday.
‘Between 2010/11 and 2012/13 total government support for local authorities in England fell by £8.7bn – from £70.1bn to £61.3bn – a drop of almost 12.5%.
‘Inflation and budget pressures added another £2bn of costs resulting in local authorities cutting budgets further. Service expenditure by local authorities in England fell by £10.8bn, from £91.1bn to £80.3bn.’
Tony Jones, Unison regional manager for local government, said: ‘The figures showing that almost £11bn in real terms has already been cut from council budgets across the county are truly shocking, and the south-east has been viciously hit.
‘They reveal the true scale of the devastating cuts that took place in the first two years of the coalition government, and it is alarming that the worst is yet to come with another £5.2bn of cuts planned by 2015/16.
‘What these numbers don’t reveal is the human cost that these cuts have on real people in local communities who rely on public services.
‘These cuts represent the loss of vital jobs and services with daycare, home care, libraries, children’s services and leisure facilities taking a real hit.’
• University vice-chancellors at the Russell Group universities enjoyed a bumper pay rise of more than £22,000, pushing their average salary to a whopping £293,000 in 2012-13.
Lecturers union, the University and College Union (UCU) has written to business secretary Vince Cable demanding to know ‘why?!’.
The UCU underlined the ‘unfairness and hypocrisy’ of a situation where vice-chancellors enjoy ‘inflation-busting pay rises while refusing to offer university staff more than 1%’, which when compared to inflation is in real terms a pay cut.
The letter, signed by UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt, states: ‘Times Higher Magazine reported that vice-chancellors in the Russell Group universities enjoyed an average pay rise of 8%.
‘The increase for staff over the same period was just 1%, and UK universities are currently in dispute with all the major trade unions following another 1% pay offer for 2013/14, which represents another real-terms pay cut.’
The UCU said that staff have seen their pay fall by 13% in real terms since 2009.
UCU said: ‘Union members took two days of strike action last term and further disruption is expected this year in the increasingly fractious dispute.’