LETTER: Impact of cuts

I REALLY must question the Observer’s coverage (11.12.14) of the next wave of austerity cuts proposed by West Sussex County councillors.

The paper went as far as providing an additional supportive ‘comment’ which could well have been drafted by Eric Pickles, Louise Goldsmith or Conservative Central Office.

Although I accept Chichester is not a hotbed of progressive, critical, radical thought, I do not expect such lazy (partisan) journalist coverage.

There was no objective impartial, sceptical analysis of the real impact these proposed ‘savings not cuts’ statement your paper readily supported.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has publically stated this week that we cannot pretend that this will not have an impact on local government’s ability to improve people’s quality of life and support local businesses.

The LGA estimates that central funding for councils has shrunk by 40 per cent overall since 2010, and this decrease has come at a time when demand for core services such as child protection, social care of older people is rapidly increasing.

Some outspoken Tory leaders have been highly critical of the latest round of cuts.

Prof Travers (LSE) has said the settlement prefaced at least five more years of cuts to come for councils as they bear the brunt, with other departments, of the coalition’s plans to make huge public spending cuts while protecting health, education and overseas aid.

Council tax thresholds also remain frozen due to non-existent wage increases in real terms as we pay off the £800bn banker’s bailout. So what will be the real impact of the proposed £5.1m reduction in health and adult social care?

It is far too early to say, but chronic complex needs do not simply ‘go away’ but present elsewhere either to GP services or as an acute A&E admission.

But with privatised, rationed community care services – safe and timely hospital discharges and recovery simply does not occur.

It will be individuals who have paid the price of funding reductions, whether it is through seeing their local library, roads deterioration, and support for young people and adult social care scaled back.

Such myopic economic ideological thinking will not safeguard West Sussex’s most vulnerable citizens – to claim otherwise is simply being disingenuous.

These decisions (yet to be implemented) will only provide an early Christmas present from local government to loan sharks, pay-day lenders and food banks.

DJ Gaylard

Peacock Close

Chichester