19 January 2015

Children's Centres

Last week we put an amendment to a motion on the economy at full council. It asked the council to consider a 5% catch up council tax rise. There would have been extra money to spend. Some services could have been saved.

Liverpool Council Tax Rises under Labour

2014 1.99%
2013 1.8%
2012 Frozen (one off 2.5% central govt "bribe")
2011 Frozen

General inflation (annual)

2014 1.5%
2013 2.5%
2012 2.8%
2011 4.5%

In the last four years, Labour in Liverpool has overseen the erosion of our council tax base. Each year the Greens have proposed a rise to try and at least keep pace with inflation to mitigate the cuts. What we can say for certain is the administration done so, we could have saved more local services. However, I think it is accepted by the vast majority, that the power a council can wield is puny compared to the direction of national government. We could criticise Liverpool Labour for the cuts, while finding examples of waste locally, while completely ignoring the national situation. However, that approach is best left to the fast disappearing Liberal Democrats.

So the cause of these cuts is the austerity agenda of the Conservatives and their junior partners. Over four years, Liverpool has experienced the second largest cuts imposed on any council nationally in one of the most deprived cities in the UK. The cuts up until now can be laid at their door.

Yet last week, we had to witness four Liverpool MPs to march through the lobbies at the House of Commons to vote in favour of the extra £30 billion cuts that will result from George Osbourne's Austerity Charter. Why?

If Labour was offering something different after May, our council could hold onto the Children's Centres. The consultation will go on until June anyway, and a new government that saved money by scrapping HS2 and Trident, so we could avoid any further cuts to council budgets, would mean we could keep open these vital centres. That isn't what Labour is offering. Increasingly voters are waking up to that.

We've been lucky enough to make use of a number of the Children's Centres as our sons have grown. It looks like our daughter won't get that chance. For us as parents, the Centres have been a great support. For other parents they can be a lifeline. The closures hurt us and they hurt our city, but the biggest opposition party in this country isn't up to the job. It's no surprise that our more radical policies are enabling us to grow our support and membership, but we need to hope to elect sufficient Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs get elected to force Labour's hand. Cut Trident not Children's Centres. Tomorrow Parliament will debate that very issue.

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