Sunday, 17 October 2010

Tory cuts in Brighton bound to hit those who can least afford it hardest

I am really worried about the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday.

Not just because the scale of the cuts in Government spending it will herald will be devastating, but because they are almost bound to hit those who can least afford it hardest, causing enormous divisions - and real hardship - in society.

The cuts in Government spending (which, better economists than I have dubbed counter-productive and set to plunge the UK economy back into a unemployment-led recession a la 1980s) will mean benefits are cut and public services dwindle. Meanwhile thousands of public sector workers will be forced to join the unemployment queues.

Already, the richest in society, who use fewer public services, are entitled to fewest benefits, and are much less likely to work in the public sector - are let off the hook.

As equality campaign group Fawcett has argued, cuts in the public sector will hit women hardest - and proposed cuts like the abolition of the Children's Commissioner, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and other quangos charged with look after the rights of the vulnerable will mean they will be joined by children, ethnic and sexual minoroties too.

Early announcements of where the axe will fall at Brighton Council suggest it is children who will bear the brunt locally - much of the details about the cuts the local Tories are already making to children's services in the city will be discussed at a full meeting of the council this Thursday.

But not so, it seems, Sussex Police.

At a recent meeting of the Sussex Police Authority Resources Scrutiny Committee, and under Green Party questioning, Deputy Chief Constable Giles York agreed that the force will be shedding jobs (1,050 is the latest estimate) 'equally'.

During a discussion about how the force was unlikely to meet locally-set targets for improving the numbers on women employed by Sussex Police, Mr York pledge that all cuts would be 'equalities impact assessed' to ensure neither women, ethnic minoroty, or LGBT staff unfairly bore the brunt of the cuts.

With recruitment at a near-standstill, and widespread unemployment almost bound to lead to an increase in crime on our streets, it’s more important than ever that we build public confidence in the police.
I am delighted the force has agreed to assess the impact of the coming job losses on women and minority groups, not just because the law may require it and because it’s the right thing to do, but because doing so will likely result in better policing and safer neighbourhoods and communities too.

Now the trick will be to hold Sussex Police to Mr York's committment.

PS There's a special prize for readers who correctly identify the morphed cut-miesters in the picture above: answers on a postcard please...

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