999 Wrong Cuts Wrong Time
- 11:05 am, Thu 9th Dec 2010
In June 2009 Andrew Lansley, then Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, let slip that the Conservatives were planning cuts of up to 10% across most Government Departments. This would likely lead to 10% cuts for many of our public services, including defence, sure start and the police.
The Labour Party in Bolton North East campaigned to bring this to people’s attention and we got a good response from constituents. What was most striking was that, regardless of people’s voting intentions, the vast majority told us that they were very concerned about how our police would be affected by a 10% cut.
In December 2010 we see the reality of these Conservative plans. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been told that they must cut their spending by 23% in the next four years. Over 3000 jobs will go, including almost 1400 police officers.
Not only is the overall cut huge, the Government is asking for most of it to come in the first couple of years. This makes it harder for GMP to find long term efficiency savings and puts more pressure on them to cut jobs.
At the start of the year the British Crime Survey showed that all crime measured had been reduced by 36% and violent crime was down by 41% since 1997. Our police have been effective and taken great strides, the Conservative plans put this success at risk.
The Conservative cuts are too large and too fast. They will leave us with fewer police officers than we had in 1997.
I am supporting a petition launched by Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls. You can find it at www.999wrongcutswrongtime.com. I hope you will add your name and help us put pressure on the Government to rethink their plans.
Help us to protect our police, so that they can continue to protect you.
Conservative plans: An attack on the aspirations of a generation (Part 3)
- 08:56 am, Fri 3rd Dec 2010
Part 3 – Where’s the work?
In parts one and two I talked about Conservative plans to scrap EMA and their plans to change the University fees system. I am worried about the short sighted approach of these policies and fear that many young people will miss out on the opportunities provided by further education.
The Conservatives seem to be sending out the message that education is for the few, not the many, and young people from towns like Bolton will now be pushed to one side. Obviously not everyone would want to go on to further education, but the door should be open for anyone who thinks it is right for them.
Throughout this debate we should not forget the young people who choose not to go on to A-levels and University. What opportunities will be available to them?
Many will want to start work, but we all know that the job market is difficult at the moment and it will only get harder as Conservative cuts make more people unemployed. Young people will find this situation especially difficult as they find themselves competing for the same positions as older people with greater skills and experience.
We have seen youth unemployment rise rapidly. The Coalition seemingly has no plan to tackle this problem, no hope to offer the young people who find themselves locked out of the job market for long periods of time.
The Future Jobs Fund was set up by the last Labour Government to help with this problem. Greater Manchester was allocated £52m to create thousands of new jobs, almost 400 here in Bolton. These jobs would be for 18-24 year olds that had been unemployed for more than 6 months.
The cost of creating these jobs was typically less than it would be to pay Jobseekers Allowance and Housing and Council Tax Benefit. They were real jobs, with real competition for positions and a real wage. They brought young people into the working world to play a productive role in society, whilst giving them valuable knowledge and experience that they could take with them.
Unfortunately the Conservatives see the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Scrapping the Future Jobs Fund was one of their very first decisions in Government.
If we allow mass long term youth unemployment to develop, we are letting down an entire generation. Young people in that situation today are more likely to find themselves struggling to find work in 10 & 20 years time; we saw exactly that after the last recession. The Coalition talk about wanting to get people off benefits, but they offer no help or support to the young people who want to go out and work.
The most concerning part of all of this is that I see no desire from the Coalition to tackle this problem. They aren’t replacing the scheme with something better, they aren’t coming up with a more cost effective way of creating jobs, they are simply scrapping the entire effort.
This is just another example of how the new Government is letting down young people across the country.
The Government has talked a lot about how they are encouraging and extending apprenticeship schemes, which is good, but their plans are targeted at adults and not young people.
Connexions services, which provide help and advice for young people seeking work or education opportunities, have seen their funding cut back across the country.
Aim Higher, which helps young people from poorer backgrounds aware of the benefits further education could bring, will be scrapped at the end of this academic year.
Each Coalition decision that I have mentioned in my past three blogs brings its own set of problems and challenges that we need to address, but put them together and you see the true picture.
This Conservative led Government is pushing through changes that will impact on every single young person in this country. They will seal up windows of opportunity and tell a generation that they have no chance to fulfil their dreams. Young people from less well off backgrounds will feel this more than anyone else.
Every young person should be given the chance to fulfil their potential, to make the most out of their life. The Conservatives are attacking this aspiration, this drive to succeed, and telling children from towns like Bolton that they should aim lower.
We can’t afford to leave a generation behind.