Hunt’s budget – a war on jobs and services! budget today!

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Birmingham council workers are fighting for equal pay and to defend jobs against huge Tory cuts

THE LOCAL Government Association condemned Chancellor Hunt’s attempt to dress up his budget onslaught on public services as a ‘war on woke’ yesterday, pointing out that most councils spend only ‘pence’ on things like ‘diversity schemes’.

Yesterday Birmingham Council, the largest local authority in Europe, was meeting to vote on monumental budget cuts, with vital public services and hundreds of jobs under threat of being wiped out.

The Budget – which is taking place in the House of Commons at lunchtime today, has been preceded by several days of Hunt attacking public service provision, claiming that councils are spending millions on ‘diversity’ and ‘consultants’ and declaring that ‘waste of taxpayer money’ is ‘immoral’.

Chair of the Local Government Association, and Labour Councillor Shaun Davies accused Hunt of hypocrisy, saying: ‘Demand for services are going up to record highs, the cost of providing services are at record highs and cuts from central government are at record highs.

‘We’ve seen 19 councils this year approach the government for exceptional financial assistance, we’ve seen more councils go bust in the last three years than in the last 30 years.

‘Conversations about diversity schemes are a distraction from the real problems,’ he insisted, while on consultant spending, Davies said that councils are ‘forced to pay for consultants in order to bid for central government funding.’

Ministers should start allocating money based on need rather than the ‘begging bowl culture of competitive bidding,’ he insisted.

A recent survey found that two-thirds of councils in England are planning to cut services, while at the same time the vast majority of them are preparing to increase council tax by the maximum 5% next month.

Nottingham City Council leader David Mellen warned they would be implementing ‘swingeing cuts,’ adding that social care demands, inflation and a rise in homelessness have contributed to a ‘huge gap’ in the council’s budget.

He said £100m had been taken from their budget by central government ‘each and every year in the last 10 years’.