In the week that Chancellor Philip Hammond MP announced, in his budget, that ‘Austerity is Over’, the Conservatives on Surrey County Council firmly disagreed with him and proclaimed that ‘Austerity is not over’.
This disagreement stems from the huge financial pressures facing the County Council: the number of residents needing support – whether it is for learning disabilities or elderly care – is rising. For instance, Surrey already has more than 93,000 residents aged over 65 who can’t manage a domestic task on their own and it is expected that this will rise by 36 per cent by 2030.
But instead of arguing that the County Council needs to be funded from central government to deliver these vital social services – just like the NHS is funded centrally to provide healthcare – our Conservative Councillors are looking to cut a further £85m from other essential services across the county to fund them.
And they have issued a series of public consultations covering:
* Children’s Centres;
* Concessionary bus travel;
* Special Educational Needs and Disabilities;
* Libraries and Cultural Services; and
* Community Recycling Centres
as these services are to bear the brunt of the cuts.
In these so-called ‘consultations’ residents are being asked to choose between one unacceptable alternative and another unacceptable alternative – the choices that residents want to make are nowhere to be seen in the “tick-box” consultation.
The County Council will then use these flawed consultations to justify which unacceptable cuts to make to these services, services which have already been cut to the bone in previous rounds of cuts.
Surrey Liberal Democrats are, however, asking all residents to respond to the consultation – which is open until Friday 4 January 2019 – and to make their views clear not just through the “tick-box” answers but to explain why all the options are unacceptable in the “freeform” comments section.
The consultations can be found at: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/have-your-say/consultation
Make sure your voice is heard!