Throughout the process of proposing over £24million of cuts, Salford Council and Mayor Ian Stewart have been rock solid on the need to axe services, including those to the most vulnerable people in the city.
Councillors quite rightly tell campaigners to blame the ConDem Government – but perhaps they should also look in their own budget books.
Tomorrow morning, from 8:30am, campaigners will be outside the Civic Centre lobbying councillors going into the full meeting of Salford Council. They will be asking them to overturn the most vicious cuts of all – those to the young, elderly sick and vulnerable. Cuts which amount to less than £3million of the total budget `savings'.
Despite protestations to the contrary, councillors could overturn these cuts – because, as the Salford Star reported back in February, there is actually a contingency in this year's budget of £6.5million for cuts it cannot implement, under the title `Non-achievement of Savings' (see previous article - click here)
Within a 74 page document seen by the Salford Star, Council officers report
"it is inevitable that there will be some shortfall in targets. The 2014/15 revenue budget includes additional funding (£6.5m) to address this shortfall."
It adds: "Accordingly the risk assessment has been adjusted and now is based broadly on 5% cover for low risk, 10% for medium risk and 15% for high risk"
It rates the likelihood of `Non-achievement of Savings' as a `medium to high risk', with a `minimum requirement' from reserves to meet the risk of £3million and a `desirable' amount of £3.6million.
As the Salford Star article translated, it appears that the Council has £6.5million as a contingency, but the likelihood is that it will spend around £3-3.6million covering cuts it can't push through.
"As the Salford Star has pointed out, there are contingencies that mean they don't have to make these cuts" comments Ameen Hadi from Salford City UNISON, which is supporting tomorrow's lobby "There are only a small proportion of the cuts that we are complaining about, and those cuts are to the services that most need the support of a Council that cares about its constituents."
Last night, UNISON also supported a lobby of the Salford Labour Group which makes the political decisions that Labour councillors then implement. It's also circulated a list of statements and questions to councillors from campaigners against the cuts – questions which remain unanswered…
Here's the highlights of the emails…
`Save Our Transport Campaign - The Council wishes to remove Transport and Escorts for people with severe disabilities to be replaced by no service or private taxi! Noreen, amongst many others, is asking the Council to reconsider: "Please if you have any consideration for our sons and us as parents… overturn the cuts against our transport."
Care On Call cuts - The Council wishes to make Care on Call self-financing. What happens to vulnerable people who can't afford to pay? What happens if not enough pay the charge? We ask the Council to make a commitment to underwrite this service and maintain the service for all vulnerable people.
Homeless Prevention and Welfare & Debt Advice under threat - Child poverty rates are increasing in Salford. We have the 3rd highest rates of repossessions outside London but the Council wants to cut the services that support these people. This is despite these services saving the City hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Mental Health Support disappearing - Why is Salford City Council, considering cutting support services to mental health users at the same time there is a threat of losing secure beds across the area?
Children Centres to close in Irlam, Walkden and Lower Broughton - Hundreds of people use these support services every week alleviating isolation, depression and providing a positive alternative to more expensive statutory social services. Keri from the Lower Broughton Campaign is asking the Council: "Why are you closing a purpose built building only three years ago for parents and children? We have over 350 families come to sure start each week, we need this centre! Where will we go? Can you stop this closure?" '
Tomorrow morning, campaigners and trade unionists will again be asking Salford councillors these questions…while petitions will be handed in at the following Council meeting.
"We'll be there because for months we've been pressurising the Council about retaining services for vulnerable people in Salford, and that they should be putting them first rather than thinking that their services don't matter" explains Ameen "We'll be there to remind them that decisions will be made in the weeks and months to come and they need to put the service users first.
"We know that the Labour Party in Salford makes the decisions and it would have been remiss of us not to make them aware and try and make them accountable, which is why we lobbied their members last night" he adds "Wednesday is the public's opportunity to show actually how they feel about what the Council is doing and we're supporting that lobby because we want to fight for every job and every service."
Lobby of Salford Council from 8:30am outside Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road Swinton
See also previous related Salford Star articles…
* How Salford Council Treats Vulnerable People Fighting Cuts - click here
* Salford Campaigning To Save Sure Start Children's Centres - click here
Main photo shows anti-cuts demo earlier this year