Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The cuts ( a response)

Knowing how much you enjoy my usual 'political' posts I thought I'd mix it up by responding to my old friend and polar opposite LC, and his cuts post. I hope you don't mind LC.

From my perspective it’s been a bit of a Phony War so far. The only tangible difference for us is that the Baby Rhyme Time sessions at our local library are under threat if they close the place down, but that’s not really the end of the world.

That may be because you live in a relatively wealthy part of London. The cuts are harshest in the poorest boroughs. They're gunning for the poor, the vulnerable and the weak. (Because they're Tories, and selfish greedy cowardly cunts.)

Apart from that, it’s business as usual at the moment, despite all the doom and gloom in the press about how everything’s going horribly wrong. Wife’s deciding whether or not she wants to go back to work and she’s found no shortage of nursing jobs on offer, even though the NHS is supposed to be cost-cutting.

Well, I'm glad for you and Mrs LC. Again, it depends on your area. But then, no one said there won't still be a need for nurses, or teachers, or any other public sector employee - we still need schools and hospitals, right, but the conditions staff will be working under will just get more and more pressurised as the budgets get slashed. And wages & pensions will go down.

I’m not sure whether we’ve just been lucky enough to avoid getting stung, or the cuts generally aren’t as bad as people expected, or if they just haven’t started to bite yet and things are likely to get a lot worse.

Are you joking? This is just the beginning! We haven't even had the budget yet. We're still living on the remnants of the Labour administration - that's our budget for the next year in school. Next year it will start to sink in. Don't be short term in your thinking. Why did they make changes so quickly? Because they're thinking long-term. Don't be complacent, I'm begging you...

And to return to your original question...

How many of you have actually been hit by the public spending cuts in any significant way?

Pay freeze for the next two years (with inflation going up, this is a pay cut.) Friends and colleagues losing their jobs. Academies schools undercutting us (they will legally be able to employ unqualified teachers at smaller salaries.) An attempt to drain my pension away (with retrospective change from RPI to CPI and proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 to 68 (!) - effectively, working longer for less money. )

But most of all, worst of all, in Tower Hamlets they are cutting special needs services, children's centres, behaviour support, school sports co-ordinators, ICT support centre, after school clubs, sports clubs, the Junior Youth Service, speech and language services - which as well as being unbelievably unjust to the deprived kids that we work with, seriously affecting their already reduced life chances , is going to make mine and my colleagues' jobs day to day pretty impossible to do.

For now, we still have support staff, and staff to work one on one with special needs children. You can have no idea what it will be like when we lose them, the special schools will close down (because they are expensive to run, and let's face it, those kids are never going to contribute to the economy, why bother throwing good money at them?) and we have to cater for complex special needs in our mainstream classes, without support. It is a shocking, cynical and terrible way to destroy a society. Out of nothing but greed.

I'm Alright, Jack got us into this trouble in the first place. Don't be one of them.


  1. I was in Brixton a few weeks ago and was told that all 34 youth workers in one ward had been axed. All of them. Most of the local youth clubs were losing funding. Gang violence is already rising...
    If you want an idea as to why investing in real care and help for these kids (ie Kids Company-style) is actually a longterm investment and saving, YES a saving, have a look at this New Yorker piece:


    There was a similar piece a month or so ago about the way that targetted, local and individual level healthcare can save as much as 25% of a healthcare budget.

  2. And Kids Company (partly funded by local authorities):


    'The 15 independent evaluations Kids Company has been subjected to since 2000 – featuring such astounding statistics as "96 per cent return rate to education and employment for children who were otherwise disengaged" or "impact on crime reduction 88 per cent" – suggest that the charity does its work with wonderful efficiency.'

  3. There goes our bright future...

  4. Ace (if rather depressing) post. You've expressed so well what I always struggle to get across to people when we get onto politics and left vs right. Thank you for this mate.

  5. Your final sentence sums it up. The world divides into two types of people - those who do care about what happens to those less fortunate than themselves and those who'd run over a poor person with their car if they thought it would get them to their destination faster (and I don't mean LC here but this may apply to at least one of his commentators). I still think we aren't quite as bad as the US though where a sizable number of right wingers seem to think there is something so inherently sinful about not being successful that poor people actually deserve to be thrown in the trash and left to die.

  6. Exactly (GreatSheElephant's last sentence). Which was always the reverse side of the American Dream. If anyone CAN be successful, and the whole culture subscribes to that idea, then if you are not successful it has to be your fault.