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Unite and LGA Labour group pledge to oppose spending cuts as May takes office

Unite has renewed its pledge to work with the Labour group in the LGA to oppose local government cuts, warning that they are likely to continue under new prime minister Theresa May.

David Cameron, who announced his resignation after the UK voted to leave the European Union last month, made his final appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions today and will go to Buckingham Palace to offer his resignation to the Queen.

Gail Cartmail, general secretary of Unite, said that spending cuts to local government are likely to continue under Theresa May, the current home secretary, who is due to take over as leader of the Conservative party and the country.

Cartmail said: “One of David Cameron’s baleful legacies will be the 676,000 jobs lost in local government  during his premiership – libraries closed, education deprived of resources, social care cut, youth centres shut, and services, such as parks, outsourced. What a legacy to leave his fellow 65 million citizens.

“There is nothing in Theresa May’s record that suggests that local government can expect any mercy as she becomes prime minister – it will be more of the same, lots more, coming down the tracks in the years up to 2020.

“Labour councils and the trade unions are the major forces in the land that can stand up to this year-on degradation of fine public services stretching back to the 19th century.”

According to figures released last week, local government spending is due to fall by £0.9bn in the next year. A survey of social service leaders, released today, warned that the shortfall in social care funding alone could be as much as £1.1bn.

Another trade union, Unison, recently warned that council staff are being “worked into the ground” after its survey found staff were reporting increasing workloads and reductions in pay.

At its AGM last week, the LGA Labour group agreed to support the document ‘Local Government Trade Union Principles’, which encourages good industrial relations, ethical employment issues, the promotion of housing services, opposing the Trade Union Act, and recognising the positive contribution of trade unions and their members.

Cllr Nick Forbes, leader of the LGA Labour Group, said: “Since 2010, councils have dealt with a 40% real terms reduction to their core government grant. In adult social care alone, funding reductions and demographic pressures have meant dealing with a £5bn funding gap.

“Councils have made significant efforts to minimise the impact of funding reductions. However, this hasn’t been without cost and the scope for making efficiencies has almost run out.”

Following the local elections in May, Labour is the largest group in the LGA, with a 0.07% majority. However, the Conservative group still holds the chairmanship because of the way the votes are counted.

Yesterday, Unite delegates at their policy conference in Brighton endorsed a 14-point campaigning template, including lobbying councils to use appropriate borrowing and re-financing to make savings, as well as borrowing to invest where it will result in income.

(Image c. Kirsty Wigglesworth from AP/Press Association Images)

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