Tag Archives: Cuts

Councils are ‘fire fighting from budget to budget’ due to cuts and changes

Jo Cox speaking in the debate on local government fundingCouncils are fire fighting from budget to budget due to government cuts and changes to the way they are funded.

This was the message from Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox during a debate in Parliament on local government funding yesterday afternoon.

Mrs Cox, who is a member of the Communities and Local Government select committee, was critical about the lack of firm details and future funding plans as well as constant rumours about new responsibilities being delegated to town halls, but with no new funding.

She told MPs and ministers: “When councils simultaneously face rumours about huge new services, such as the attendance allowance or public health, for which they may be expected to take responsibility over the same timeline, they are left with no security in their financial planning.

“The reality is that many councils have very little room left for long-term financial planning. My council tells me that it is firefighting from budget to budget without long-term certainty, and that it will be 2.5% worse off in 2020 than today, compared with national average cuts of about 0.5%.

“That figure does not seem very big, but it is about the size of the entire libraries budget, and let us not forget that it comes on top of incredibly severe cuts over the past four years that mean that Kirklees Council will be spending about 15% less than it spent in 2010.

“I do not believe that anyone becomes a councillor to cut local library services by 32%, to cut children’s music services by 94%, to remove £700,000 from the budget to cut grass or to completely scrap community events and festivals, which is what is happening in Kirklees.

“Many of my constituents are feeling the even sharper end of council cuts to adult social care and other important services. My fear is that the Government wants to blame local councillors.”

Mrs Cox went on to tell MPs that a family living in a £70,000 terraced house in Batley will now be getting £60 less per family member in council services than they did in 2010, but families living in a £2 million home in Oxfordshire will be getting £50 more per family member.

“That seems blatantly unfair, and my constituents struggle to understand it,” she said. “That disparity in core spending power over the course of this Parliament is staggering and seems to be growing. For councillors such as mine in Kirklees, it does not feel like we are all in this together.”

The comments here are taken from a speech in Westminster Hall made yesterday afternoon. Time limits imposed on the debate meant Mrs Cox’s speech was cut short but you can read the full debate here.

Pressure forces Chancellor u-turn on police cuts

IMG_5996Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox has welcomed news that the Chancellor has been forced to abandon a new round of cuts he planned to inflict on police budgets.
Escalating pressure from Labour MPs forced the u-turn, which in West Yorkshire would have compounded the 22 per cent reduction in police officers since 2010.
Mrs Cox said: “The pressure that we have built on the Chancellor has paid off. His plans would have meant putting public safety at risk, it was vital we stopped him and we have.”
Labour secured a debate in parliament earlier this month specifically to put pressure on the Chancellor to drop his plans to hit police forces with even more cuts.
Mrs Cox, who spoke in that debate, added: “The Chancellor’s planned cuts were deeply troubling not only for MPs but for the police, local people and business owners. On top of this he has completely failed to deliver the sort of investment that we need in our police services.
“In recent days we have seen locally just how important neighbourhood policing is to local people.”

Further cuts to police will be ‘huge gamble’ with public safety

Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox is backing a national campaign to prevent further cuts to the police.

Mrs Cox supported efforts in Parliament last week to stop planned cuts from going ahead and warned that this will lead to a further, drastic reduction in police numbers.

“I share the concerns of West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner that more cuts will mean the Government is taking a huge gamble with public safety,” she said.

“With violent rise climbing now is not the time to further reduce the numbers of police officers. By next March West Yorkshire will have 1,275 fewer police officers than we did in 2010 – a reduction of 22 per cent.

“With violent crime increasing by around 50 per cent it will be hard to maintain that there is no link with the fall in the number of bobbies on the beat.”

Mrs Cox spoke during a debate in Parliament on Wednesday, raising the point that only 20 per cent of a police officer’s job these days relates to recorded crime, while 80 per cent relates to safeguarding and vulnerability. She is worried that this is something the Home Office doesn’t quantify and therefore has a skewed view of the realities on the frontline.

“There are also concerns about what these cuts will mean for Neighbourhood Policing Teams, which have been successful and popular,” added Mrs Cox. “We will see all the proactive police work that’s been done over the last 20 years vanish and only enough resources for a reactive service.

“We will also see cuts to community safety budgets and the likelihood of a rise in the blight of anti-social behaviour and low level crime.”

Mrs Cox holds regular meetings with local and divisional police commanders as well as with the Police and Crime Commissioner.

November column: Resisting police cuts

Jo Cox writes a column every month for the Dewsbury Press. This is the column for October, published today.

Reducing the number of police officers on the streets amid a backdrop of rising violent crime is a “massive gamble” the Government should not be taking.

We should pay attention when West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, the man ultimately responsible for local policing, warns that public safety will be at risk if further cuts are implemented.

By next March there will be 1,275 fewer police officers locally than there were in 2010 – a reduction of 22 per cent. Violent crime has risen in West Yorkshire as it has nationally, by 50 per cent.

It is not unreasonable to conclude the two things are linked.

But these further cuts will mean far more than just fewer police on our streets.

Community safety – the partnership between the police and the council – will see its budget slashed, from both ends. Neighbourhood policing teams, which have been hugely successful and popular, could be dismantled. We have been well served by our neighbourhood policing teams locally but that valuable, proactive and community led service looks as though it will be replaced by an entirely reactive one, due to lack of officers.

The consequences of this aren’t just limited to serious crime, as local people and in particular local business owners are noticing. I am hearing about a rise in anti-social behaviour, low level crime and nuisance. Business owners in town centres report these sorts of problems more and more and their experience is that nothing is being done to tackle it.

It may not be as serious but such crime is no less a blight on local people trying to go about their day or making a living. If we lose the NPTs and suffocate the community safety work then these sorts of issues will get more and more prevalent and more serious.

There is no doubt ideology and not necessity drives these cuts but there also seems to be a deeper issue at play on policing.

I spoke during a debate instigated by Labour in Parliament last week, raising the point that only 20 per cent of a police officer’s job these days relates to recorded crime, while 80 per cent relates to safeguarding and vulnerability – resource intensive missing person cases, trafficking, child sexual exploitation and cases relating to mental health.

As well as not understanding the realities of a police officer’s role, the Home Office doesn’t seem to be able to sort out the funding. Its hunger for cuts has resulted in a calculation error so monumental that changes to the funding formula have been suspended this week.

West Yorkshire’s funding suffers unfairly for being a metropolitan county and even Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners have condemned the formula and threatened legal action, dispelling the myth that condemning these ‘reforms’ is politically motivated.

There is a stark warning from the local Police Federation: By the end of this decade we will have 40 per cent fewer police officers than it did at the start. Our police force will be attempting to meet 21st century demands with 1970s staffing levels.

This worries me and I know it worries local people. I will do all I can to resist these cuts.

Welcome reprieve for Batley & Spen libraries

Batley_LibraryBatley & Spen MP Jo Cox has welcomed news that all four of our local libraries are to be saved.

Kirklees Council will be asked to approve plans that will see Batley, Cleckheaton, Birstall and Heckmondwike libraries not only remain open but remain funded by the council.

Kirklees warned that in attempting to deal with the severest cuts from this Conservative Government in the history of local government, they would have to consider closing every library as a worst case scenario, meaning all four Batley & Spen libraries were under threat.

Mrs Cox, who campaigned to save all four from closure and launched a petition to save them, said: “This is a great victory. It is fantastic news and a welcome relief for thousands of local people who were desperate to save their valuable community resources and vital lifelines for so many people.

“This is a great result and the right result and I am delighted that the council has listened and taken on board the concerns and feelings of my constituents.

“It is a real shame that there will be cuts to services and staffing elsewhere in Kirklees but credit must go to the library staff, officers and Labour’s Cllr Graham Turner and his colleagues who have work so hard on this and, in spite of the scale of cuts they’re having to deal with, have come up with a plan that saves virtually the whole service.”

Mrs Cox used her regular column in this newspaper last month to make an impassioned eleventh hour appeal to councillors to protect our ‘awesome libraries’ and the librarians who make them great.

She added: “My campaign was attacked and criticised by the Conservatives, whose staggering cuts to Kirklees’s budget have caused this situation, but it goes to show that when local people come together in this way and fight for something they love that we can all make a difference.”