To some degree the disproportionate emphasis on government cuts to the big sectors (health, eduction, defence etc) represents the fact that they are broadly prioritised in the nation’s psyche and that they determine to a large extent peoples voting intentions. The list below illustrates how this coalition’s cuts affect smaller, marginalised and less well resourced communities. I would assert that in writing, saying “I” and using expletives within a sentence is invariably gratuitous. However, I would also assert that on reading the evidence presented below, I think what is happening is nothing short of a fucking disgrace.
1.Scottish Refugee Council: Offers independent advice and advocacy, finding lawyers, solving housing disputes etc. Cuts : £1m (62%). John Wilkes, its chief executive, says: “I think it could lead to more destitution, it could lead to more homelessness. That’s my fear. The things that help keep these people in the system, we just won’t be able to do.”
2.Youth counselling serivce (Greenwich, London) : the charity operates an early intervention scheme, run mainly by trained volunteers, working with children suffering from anxiety, depression and sleep disorders, and young people who self-harm. Cuts : £118,000 (45%). Local NHS mental health teams have described Youthreach as a service they “can’t manage without”. But the loss of its core funding from Greenwich council, equivalent to 45% of its total budget, is a hammer blow. After 1 April, its meagre reserves will keep its doors open for three months at most and then it will shut. Its young clients will be diverted to already overstretched youth mental health services.
3.Terrence Higgins Trust CHAPS Cymru project:The CHAPS project researches the HIV prevention needs of gay men, and develops and delivers campaigns and information for those at risk. Cuts : £80,000 (100%) Genevieve Edwards, executive director of communication and health improvement for THT, says the cut is short-sighted and risky. “It is not a huge amount of money but the impact on gay men in Wales will be huge. It is really going to add to the isolation for men who don’t see HIV prevention here, who won’t know if there is a syphilis outbreak. We can’t warn about increasing rates of HIV. It is really dangerous.”
4.Oldham Community Support workers: They give advice on nutrition and exercise for very young children and their families, offer tips on early parenting, run baby yoga and massage classes and support families either in groups or individually. Cuts : £700,000 (100%. Anne Longfield, chief executive of the charity 4Children, said: “Local authorities have very difficult spending decisions to make. But when reshaping services and making efficiencies, councils must stretch every sinew to protect the vital frontline services that families rely on.”
5.Haringey Advisory Group on Alchol: HAGA, the only alcohol project in the borough, helps 1,000 problem drinkers a year, plus their partners and children. Cuts : £455,000 (40%). Gail Priddey, HAGA’s chief executive said “We are extremely worried about the consequences for problem drinkers and their families, as are they. We have been advised to send them back to their GPs or A&E, if appropriate, or children and family social services. Nightmare.”
6.Newham Asian Advisory Service: This project, founded in 1987, provides a raft of support services for South Asian women who are victims of domestic abuse Cuts : £22,000 . NAWP director Baljit Banga, says: “We have got a very high number of high-risk cases we are dealing with: women who are at risk of suicide, women who are experiencing extreme trauma related to domestic abuse. That is our client base. There is an assumption that women will simply move on to other services, but actually that really does not happen. When they don’t have access to services, they withdraw from services altogether.”
7.Devon Conservation Forum: The forum was founded in 1970 to champion conservation issues in Devon. Over the years it has formed study groups and working parties to investigate issues affecting the county’s environment. Cuts : £4,724 (100% of funding from Devon county council) James Wreth, CEO of Devon Conservation Forum claimed that “I accept that if it’s a matter of caring for a child or the environment, the child comes first. But it’s sad that a forum that has existed for 40 years is being lost.” SM
8.Maplehome, Pensall House, Poulton House, Meadowcraft, Fernleigh care homes, the Wirral, Merseyside:
Five care homes will be closed on the Wirral by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat-controlled borough council as part of its £50m spending cuts. Four will close on 31 March, with the exception of Fernleigh, which is to remain open “while options are considered”. Closure will save £2.7m.Maplehome provides respite for adults with learning difficulties, while Fernleigh is a respite service for adults with mental health problems. Staff at the homes have been offered voluntary redundancy. The remainder will be redeployed. Gwen Seller, chair of Wirral Mencap, says: “The speed of implementation of the closures precludes any reasoned or meaningful discussion with service users and their families about how their needs will be met.”
9.KicFM :Kids in Communication has given more than 4,000 teenagers in Wolverhampton the chance to learn how to be a radio producer, reporter or researcher over the last 11 years. But it is due to close on 1 April. Rob Smith, Kic’s chief executive, says young people feel cuts like this are disproportionate and unwarranted, coming on top of the abolition of the education maintenance allowance and the rise in university fees. “We have an excellent track record of progression, taking young people from exclusion to employment. Measures proposed in the budget, such as expanding apprenticeships will not achieve that same result.”
Its time to fight back.