Back in January, when the full scale of cuts in Salford were announced by City Mayor Ian Stewart (see here), he admitted that vulnerable people would be hit hardest…
"The largest and most horrendous cuts will affect those who most need the services" he said "We could not completely mitigate against cuts to vulnerable people even though we wanted to…"
At the time, Stewart blamed the "impact of Government cuts" but added that he would "stand the criticism that we have made an error of judgement in a particular aspect…"
The `error of judgement' appears to be in the overall budget direction that veers towards privatisation and cuts for social care services, while prestige projects like MediaCityUK, Chapel Street and Greengate don't appear to have had a penny chopped off their budget (apart from Media City transport subsidies which were to go anyway). Meanwhile, Council Fat Cats will get a mere pay freeze rather than a wage cut.
Ian Stewart made a big play in January, arguing that many Council projects which were getting criticised were funded from the `capital' funding budget ((buildings and stuff: MediaCityUK, Greengate, Chapel Street, Port Salford etc), rather than the `revenue' funding (people) budget.
But the budget report that councillors are expected to approve tomorrow states that the £120million of `unsupported' borrowing that has been spent, and will be spent, on these `capital' projects "needs to be funded from the revenue budget"…in other words, the budget used to pay for public services, like caring for vulnerable people.
The budget, containing over £23million of cuts that are expected to be approved by Labour councillors tomorrow, includes a £6million cut to Children's Services, which will lead to "some reduction in support for vulnerable children aged 0-5"; a £7.8million cut to Community, Health and Social Care, which will see only those old and sick people with `substantial and critical' needs being given support, the privatisation of social care services, and the most vulnerable being reliant on "technology rather than people, with some concern and anxiety about this approach".
Meanwhile, "many specialist services such as mental health services, supported accommodation, day services, welfare rights and debt advice will need to be delivered in different ways..." ie cheaper and nastier (more of this in a separate feature).
The report concludes that "Overall, self help, community resilience and integrated approaches with partners will be necessary to mitigate against the impact of such significant reductions" ie Dickensian-style Do-It-Yourself social care.
Untouched financially, is the £3million sponsorship of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, £4million on Swinton `Gateway', £2million on unspecified MediaCityUK projects; £250,000 on Peel Holdings' Bridgewater Canal; £22,000 on landing `pontoons' for Water Taxis; £300,000 on the urban `pea farm'; £250,000 on some stairs leading to the Bijou Club; £200,000 on the Irwell River Park plus £thousands of extra costs for the messed up Pendleton PFI project.
In January, Ian Stewart said he would "stand the criticism that we have made an error of judgement in a particular aspect…"
Salford Against The Cuts and public sector trade unions are calling on Salford people tomorrow morning to tell City Mayor Ian Stewart and his councillor colleagues exactly what they think of Salford Council's budget…
Protest Against Salford Council Cuts
Wednesday 27th February
8-9am Civic Centre, Swinton
See previous article on last night's Salford City UNISON lobby of councillors – click here