Socialist Worker

Tory cuts hit school dinners, housing and childcare

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2206

The Tories’ attacks have already begun—and they are taking aim at the most vulnerable people in society.

Last week Tory chancellor George Osborne abolished a scheme to extend free school meals to 500,000 primary school children. It was targeted at some of the poorest families.

The move snatches free school meals from poor children in Bradford, Nottingham, Cumbria, Islington in London and Medway in Kent who were about to get them, and puts an end to the national rollout.

It also puts a big question mark over how long existing pilot schemes in Durham, Wolverhampton and Newham, east London, will last.

It means people will have to pay around £600 more every year to feed their children.

Meanwhile the Tories have attacked housing. A series of cuts will stop around 7,000 new homes being built.

Some 4.5 million people are on housing waiting lists in Britain and thousands more live in inadequate or overcrowded homes.

The cuts are bad news for these people—and all those who would have got work building the new homes.

The Tories have slashed £100 million from the affordable housing programme budget.

An estimated 2,223 homes now will not be built.

They also cut £50 million from the Kickstart scheme, which aids housing developments—losing another 560 homes.

A further £50 million was snatched from investment in housing in poorer areas and £30 million from a programme to build homes for travellers.

More housing programmes have had their budgets frozen, threatening more than 4,000 new homes—and planning law changes could put a stop to another 19,000.

Cliff

David Orr, chief executive of the national housing federation, wrote to the housing minister, Grant Shapps, warning that the cuts would lead to house building “falling off a cliff”.

Meanwhile Michael Gove, the education secretary, made £670 million cuts in education as part of the government’s initial £6.2 billion cuts last month.

They include a £10 million cut in provision for free childcare for parents who are training to work.

Gove has made clear that this is only the beginning. “I am also committed to reviewing all the department’s spending,” he wrote in a letter to Ed Balls, shadow education secretary.

In fact, more cuts in education have already arrived—the government announced £1.1 billion of cuts in funding for English councils last week.

Leeds council has had more than £7 million cut from its budget, Birmingham £12.6 million, Liverpool £9.3 million and Manchester £7.2 million.

Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds council, said, “These cuts will hit our schools in some of our most deprived areas.”

The government has also cut over £37 million from spending on road safety, in a move that could put lives at risk.

But the Tories face a big danger with the cuts—that they will spark mass resistance.

By swinging the axe at public services, the Tory cuts take on everyone at once, rather than attacking groups of workers one by one. Let’s make sure that this is their undoing.


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