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Local government in ‘perfect storm’ of cuts says Unison

Local government is in the eye of a "perfect storm" of cuts and privatisation, according to the largest public sector union.

Paul Gilroy, part of the Unison’s local government’s service group executive, told members attending the union’s conference in Glasgow that cuts to local government services, attacks on terms and conditions and mass redundancies are causing damage to frontline services, reducing the scope of service provision and weakening the social fabric of local communities and local economies.

Glen Williams, another member of the service group executive, called for the union to "build the broadest possible support for an alternative economic strategy”.

He added that although local Labour councils must do all they could, "we must not allow central government to pass the blame to local government”.

According to Paula Barker, a union rep from the north west, local government cuts meant for one a cut of £64,000 every day for seven years for one local authority.

In advance of the conference Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, told the Guardian that an exodus of members following a massive amount of job cuts across the public sector had resulted in 180,000 members leaving the union due to redundancy. However he added that this has been made up by 170,000 new members joining after private companies took on the public sector accounts.

He also told the paper that he plans to slim down the number of campaigns the union supports from the current 55 and link up with campaign groups to show how cuts in public service provision damage communities and abandon the most vulnerable.

“Local community services have been hit particularly hard. We can’t have care of the elderly and vulnerable at the levels of funding being proposed by ministers. To say that you can cut public services again and again and nobody suffers is just wrong,” he said.

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