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Labour must outline a new settlement for public services

Love-your-public-ServicesThe future of public services is at a watershed in this election. The independent Resolution Foundation has calculated that Tory plans to balance the deficit by 2018 mean £37bn more cuts still to come. The stark truth of that means a cut in local government spending of no less than 42% between 2010-18, nearly halving the services that councils are able to provide. The public service jobs lost as a result will almost certainly reach beyond a million.

What Labour should therefore be arguing for is a new settlement for public services, including higher taxes on the very rich, writing off some of the debts created by the financial crisis, and more financial freedom for local authorities to set council tax and to borrow. Councils should be enabled to set higher council tax bands for higher-value properties and to set business rates for each area, as well as to levy small local taxes such as a tourism tax.

One particularly urgent is to ensure that the social care sector is properly funded so that it can meet the care needs of a growing ageing population. This must mean a legal requirement that home care workers receive at the very least the national minimum wage, which over 220,000 do not currently receive because of unpaid travel time abuses.

The increasing marketisation of public services must be stopped and greater democratic accountability introduced. In probation the so-called Transforming Rehabilitation privatisation programme should be reversed. Clause 119 of the Care Act should be repealed so that local communities have greater say over their local NHS. The same accountability of schools to our communities should be brought back where it has been eroded. The entire Lobbying Act needs to be repealed so that civil society organisations and trade unions can campaign freely.

To tackle the cost of living crisis and ensure a fair and sustainable recovery, we need to restore collective pay agreements alongside pay review bodies and equal pay. The artificial public sector pay cap should be removed and the abuses of zero hours contracts stamped out. In addition the role of public sector investment needs to be developed in creating decent employment, paying fair wages, and delivering important public infrastructure such as new affordable housing which is desperately needed.

3 Comments

  1. Jeffery Davies says:

    Whot you missing the ninty nine percent who aint rich havent lost any monies only the rich labour if it realy wants to be true labiur is to throw all these yanky companies whk embeding themselves into councils gettjng rid if these would be a start has the council take back control of these jobs and pays yet are you gong to or talk more austerity it isnt working lets have jobs more paying their taxes it seems the rich dknt like paying but you has a party wil have to show the coffee getting cold its time for these big companies to pay their way or get out of the country you see the worker loses around quarter of his pag in taxes why not those earning more lets make it outlawed to get paid offshore will the party go down this road putting work back under control of local council the tory way has killed many of these jobs by allowing big yanky company’s to do it whots worse they paid less and less jobs were the savings there ain’t only these companies taking it offshore yes are labour going to stand up for that I wonder or is ed b r and r raving for more austerity jeff3

  2. James Martin says:

    It’s not hard to think of something better than we have now is it? An end to PFI, and end to outsourcing and privatisation, an end to unaccountability in public services (from ‘arms-length’ providers to academy schools), an end to poverty pay.

    But we also need to go far beyond this and make public services genuinely democratic. This is not about introducing the Tory favourite of John Lewis/Waitrose employee incorporation (although that would be better than what we have in many public services, crippled as they are by top-down bullying management regimes), but let’s rediscover all the pioneering work done by comrades like Ken Coates and Tony Topham on workers control. Let’s also rediscover the success of things like when Eric Heffer was able to influence and cahnge direct labour as a Liverpool councillors in the 1960s where he was able to bring them and the unions into decision-making and as a result of this ‘ownership’ the quality of their work in terms of council house repairs increased markedly.

    Never again should we talk about ‘public services’ without talking inclusively of the workers in them and the workers they serve!

    1. Robert says:

      sadly it seems to be to much of an ask these days.

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