Ryeview – October 2009

Who pays when the axe falls on spending?

John Clark writes…

First published: October 2009 – Gazette & Herald

“Cuts” is Labour as well as Tory political language. Liberal Democrats want to show their macho qualifications. Nick Clegg calls for “Bold and even savage cuts in public spending”. He calls for a freeze in the public sector pay bill and cutting back on public sector pensions.

It is hard to believe that people on high incomes with super enhanced pensions can call for cuts in the wages and pensions of the lower paid. Maybe he is taking lessons from his representative in Ryedale. Howard Keal voted for free drinks for councillors paid for by the council tax. A couple of weeks later he stated that supporting a zero alcohol policy for employees would be hypocritical. He then seconded the zero tolerance policy that had been proposed by a fellow Liberal Democrat. A few minutes later he voted for it! At least he had the decency to realise he was voting for hypocrisy.

Liberal Democrats nationally state that the country cannot afford to abolish student top-up fees. Most of the present Lib. Dem MP’s got student grants (not loans) with no top-up fees. Now they are on big salaries, pensions and ‘expenses’ and say the country cannot afford to abolish top-up fees. How can the country have the money to ‘lend’ students loans and top-up fees? How is there not the same amount of money to ‘give’ the same amount for a grant and pay the fees? The only difference is that under the loans system present and future students pay. Under the grants system the £60,000+/year MP’s would have to pay more tax. Why not? They, after all, got grants and their fees paid.

As the General Election approaches the right wing mantra of ‘private enterprise creates the wealth’ gains momentum. I am not in any way convinced. How would the private sector survive if all its employees had no education? How many businesses don’t use the roads? Which businesses don’t sell to the public sector?

The other side of the same coin is that called for by at least one senior Tory on Ryedale District Council; “The public sector should share in the pain.” I am equally confused. In a recession why would there be a need for less benefit officers. The increased number of unemployed causes an increase in benefit workload. How could we use less social workers to look after children than when times were booming? In fact there is an argument that there are more people under pressure and therefore more need for social workers. Unemployed youngsters either wait on the street corner for the recession to end or carry on at school or college. Of course getting better educated will help business in the future but more teachers and lecturers are needed now to provide the education.

It is rumoured that Ryedale District Council may have to make £1 million in cuts. At least £500,000 could be saved by:-

  • Removing the recently appointed new layer of Heads of Service – £400,000.
  • Reducing the salary of the Chief Executive – £50,000.
  • Reducing the salary of each of the Directors – £50,000.

There we are. Half way without any loss of service. The other half could come from Ryedale District Council support for Private Enterprise, but I suspect that would be attacking ‘wealth creation’.

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