Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 3rd July 2019

Imagine if over the last nine years you’d seen your family’s income drop by half, while the Government placed more and more financial obligations on you. Would you have confidence the things you could afford were going to be of the same standard as the things you bought nine years ago?

It is too easy to forget, or just get bored of hearing, that this is what public services–like local councils–are facing.

Bit-by-bit public services are failing. Had voters been told this is what would happen to their services in 2010, and it is worth noting Austerity became Conservative policy only after the General Election, there would have been an outcry. But over nine years the process has been slow enough people either don’t notice or have just come to accept this is the way things are now in Britain.

While all eyes are on Brexit, a third of councils are on the verge of no longer being able to afford to provide the most basic services they are legally obliged to deliver. That’s why here at the Annual Conference of the Local Government Association councils of all parties have come together to stress how serious the situation is as part of the ‘Breaking Point’ campaign.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are now making it clear through their leadership campaign spending promises that even the Conservatives believe that there is plenty of money available for services, if we had a Government interested in funding them. Instead, we see these two prospective Conservative leaders do what men like them always do: fight over who can give the biggest tax cut to their wealthy backers.

This is not a priority for our country and certainly not a priority for Crawley. Crawley’s NHS is in financial special measures, local headteachers have marched on Downing Street for better funding for our schools, and we see daily reminders of the disappearance of Police Officers from our streets.

The Government has the money, what it lacks is the will, unfortunately until voters are willing to do something about it, failing public services is the new normal.

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