MORE than 14,500 jobs cut, nearly 30 centres for the elderly and disabled closed and pot-holed roads cracking day by day. Welcome to life in Yorkshire in coalition Britain.
This dystopian vision, of a region with crumbling infrastructure and public services shutting their doors on the sick and the needy, is not the new poltics for which millions of people voted on May 5 last year. Britons knew cuts were coming but did not give consent to them on this scale. Perhaps the only consistency in generations of politicians’ promises is their failure to live up to them.
The tidal wave of efficencies in this region, the full extent of which is revealed today by the Yorkshire Post, amounts to an assualt on public services. Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, claimed councils would face a tough but fair funding settlement. In fact, he and his coalition colleagues have gambled their political future, and the lives of countless ordinary Britons, on this being the best way to turn around the country’s finances. Mr Pickles risks being judged by history as the man who blighted the life chances of youngsters and who decimated the care of the eldery and the disabled in some of the poorest parts of the region.
It is difficult to pick out one area among all those hit but clearly the impact on Yorkshire’s elderly and disabled populations will be enormous. The closure of day centres and residential care homes will risk the health of patients, transforming their lifestyles for the worse and hitting their families in their pockets as they are forced to turn to private sector care. Cuts in Hull, for example, which will mean the state providing fewer dementia services, will place a heavy burden on relatives.
This is hardly what was envisioned when David Cameron said that those with the broadest shoulders would bear the greatest load.
The coalition had suggested that a combination of executive pay cuts at local authorities, a purge of “non-jobs” and a raid on bankers’ bonuses would absorb much of the pain. Yet the Leeds children who face having their swimming lessons cut are hardly the face of public sector largesse. It is the young, the eldery and the sick who will bear the pain in Cameron’s Britain.