Socialist Worker

Tories, Labour and SNP agree on austerity - Fight the cuts now!

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2430

Up to 500 people protested outside Glasgow City Council on Wednesday of last week to defend the Glasgow Association of Mental Health (GAMH).

Protesting against cuts to mental health services in Glasgow last week

Protesting against cuts to mental health services in Glasgow last week (Pic: Duncan Brown)


The charity faces a 40 percent funding cut. It is one of the biggest mental health service providers in Scotland. 

Unison union member Jenny Bunting has worked for GAMH for over 20 years. She told Socialist Worker, “A lot of the work GAMH does is preventative. 

These cuts will adversely affect the quality of life for service users. 

They have already been adversely affected by welfare reforms such as benefit cuts and the bedroom tax.”

Service users, supporters and staff joined the lobby. They warned that slashing funding could force the charity to close. Losing 

8 percent of funding a few years ago resulted in the loss of 27 jobs.

Service user of four years Lorna Cosh told Socialist Worker, “Without the support of GAMH my health and wellbeing would deteriorate rapidly. 

“My son Darren also receives support as my carer and he would be affected as well.

“It is vital that GAMH workers and service users are united in this fight.”

Glasgow’s Labour council plans to slash around £100 million from services by 2017. But it is not alone.

All the main political parties are implementing Tory austerity.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) criticises cuts in Falkirk made by the local Labour and Tory-controlled “Better Together Administration”. Yet it is implementing £17 million cuts in Dundee. 

In Edinburgh both Labour and the SNP are cutting mental health, care and disability services.

This is not what most people voted for in September’s independence referendum. 

The 45 percent that backed independence saw it as an opportunity to end Tory austerity. 

And many No voters were convinced that more devolved powers could protect local services and address inequality.

We should oppose cuts—whoever is making them. Resistance to austerity can’t wait until after the general election.


Councils could make schools slash hours to ‘save money’

Figure it out: £17,000,000 Funding cuts planned for Dundee which is run by the Scottish National Party (SNP); £67,000,000 Funding cuts that Edinburgh council, run by Labour and the SNP, plan to force through; £100,000,000 Cuts planned by the Labour council in Glasgow by 2017

Secondary schools could close early once a week and the primary school week could be shortened under new cuts plans being considered by council bosses.

Cosla, the umbrella body for Scottish councils, has said these are just some of the options being considered. 

All parties in Scotland are wielding the axe in the current round of budget cuts.

Borders Council has cut the school week so that secondary schools are closed on Friday afternoons. Cosla has said this may be rolled out elsewhere to save money.

Highland Council has warned that it could impose cuts to classroom hours and the school week to help it “save” £64 million next year.

East Renfrewshire Council has floated the idea of getting pupils to help run libraries in its seven secondary schools and making all librarians part time. 

This would “save” £131,000.

In Dundee the council is closing one secondary school as part of its budget cuts—but it describes the cut as a “revamp”.

Other councils, including Glasgow, West Lothian and Fife, face budget “black holes” and say they need to make millions in spending cuts.

Plummeting

Scottish National Party (SNP) education minister Mike Russell is already under fire. The SNP has presided over plummeting teacher numbers, slashed college places and cuts to bursaries for the poorest students.

College student numbers have dropped by over 140,000 since 2007. Some 3,000 fewer students from poorer areas are now going to university.

The EIS teachers’ union says more than 4,000 teachers have gone under the SNP.

A recent Audit Scotland report said council education spending fell 5 percent in real terms between 2010/11 and 2012/13, “largely as a result of employing fewer staff”.

Teacher numbers in ratio to the number of pupils were protected in a 2011 agreement that cut teachers’ pay.

Russell has been quick to blame Westminster and the Labour Party, which controls two of the biggest councils in Scotland. 

The reality is both Labour and the SNP are implementing Tory austerity.

Delegates at the EIS conference in the summer overwhelmingly backed strikes to be included in the union’s campaign against increased workloads in schools and colleges. 

Union leaders committed to preparing this campaign of action by December.

As council bosses threaten to axe a range of services EIS members in schools should call on the union to get going before the cuts start to bite. 

It could provide a clear example to other workers that the SNP government will be held accountable for the cuts it makes.

And that any local authority passing on the cuts, whether Labour or SNP, will face resistance.


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