Recent Articles

How the last year shaped up for left-wing activism

by Chaminda Jayanetti     January 4, 2012 at 10:55 am

If the Welfare Reform Bill makes it through Parliament this month, it will set the seal on a terrible twelve months in which – sporadic successes aside – ‘the Left’ has failed to provide effective leadership and representation for those bearing the brunt of public funding cuts and austerity economics.

There have been massive shortcomings in how the Left has handled the public funding cuts in 2011, especially in two of the worst-affected areas – benefits and adult care. Much of this revolves around the fact that, from the militants to the wets, the leadership of the Left is not drawn from the ranks of those it claims to represent, and is therefore not much cop at representing them.

Everyone is guilty of something.
continue reading… »

The different ways in which we could respond to the cuts

by Chaminda Jayanetti     September 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

With the coalition’s cuts set to impact all areas of public spending, many civil society organisations, community groups and charities are growing increasingly concerned about the effect they will have on the people and causes they represent.

Some charities have focused solely on defending their own area of funding, while others are looking to build a united front – and representatives of this latter group met in London last week to start initial discussions on how charities, community groups and civil society can build a united resistance to the cuts.

The meeting was off the record – but here are some of the suggestions and ideas that were raised:
continue reading… »

Tory council becomes first to write to Pickles protesting against cuts

by Chaminda Jayanetti     September 10, 2010 at 9:05 am

Conservative-run Derby City Council has found itself lobbying against the Tory-led national government’s spending cuts.

At the end of July, a council vote forced Conservative council leader Harvey Jennings to write to communities secretary Eric Pickles in protest at the impact of government funding cuts on Derby.

On Wednesday night, the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems all voted to lobby education secretary Michael Gove over his decision to axe most of the city’s schoolbuilding programme, which was weeks away from signing contracts when he pulled the plug.
continue reading… »

Council blows youth services on exec pay-out

by Chaminda Jayanetti     September 6, 2010 at 5:06 pm

News in from Children and Young People Now that Sheffield Council has spent most of the £700k it is cutting from youth services on pay-offs to three senior council officials.

The council has spent nearly £670k on redundancy pay-offs to three assistant chief executives, just as compulsory redundancy notices go out to 50 Connexions staff, all of whom will receive the statutory minimum – capped at £11,400.

The three senior executives who received bumper payouts are:

  • Liz Bashforth – assistant chief executive for legal and governance – £331,867
  • Ken Green – assistant chief executive for organisational development and communications – £200k
  • Ron Barraclough – assistant chief executive for policy and performance – £125k

Unison regional officer Kevin Osborne told CYPN:

There is clearly a policy of ‘us and them’ at the city council. At a time when public sector workers are having their wages frozen and facing redundancies, these payments are unacceptable.

Unison is currently balloting its members for industrial action over the job cuts at the Liberal Democrat-controlled council.

As commentary, I don’t think anyone’s arguing that if there are to be cutbacks, highly paid senior managers should be well ahead of frontline staff in the firing line for redundancy.

What I don’t know is whether the terms of the three executives’ contracts meant that the council was legally obliged to pay them £670k.

If the council was obliged to make these payments under the contracts, then they clearly agreed to some pretty daft contracts for senior management. If the council wasn’t obliged, then it is showering these executives with extraordinary largesse, regardless of how competent they were in their roles.

Either way, it’s a mess.

How Connexions has been cut across the country: a spreadsheet of info

by Chaminda Jayanetti     September 3, 2010 at 11:40 am

I’ve published a comprehensive database of cuts announced so far to the Connexions youth service.

Connexions provides universal information, advice and guidance to young people, and works with young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) to help them back into education or work. The service is funded by local authorities with a grant from central government

But after the coalition government cut this grant by 24 percent in June, applied to this financial year (‘in-year’), councils across England have announced cutbacks to local Connexions services.
continue reading… »

The ultimate right-wing guide to Outrageous Government Waste!

by Chaminda Jayanetti     August 13, 2010 at 9:30 am

Yesterday Communities Secretary Eric Pickles trumpeted his department’s publication of all supply contracts above £500 as proof of the government’s new transparency. Rightly so.

Given the absence of any clarity though, the press settled for reporting the blatantly flagged expenditure of £1,600 on massages for staff and £539 on an away day at Blackpool pleasure beach.

Any serious analysis of the data is difficult as very little detail is provided on what each contract was actually for. But that didn’t stop the swivel-eyed brigadiers coming out in all their spEak You’re bRanes pomp.
continue reading… »

The worst cuts yet: how a Tory council is targeting the vulnerable

by Chaminda Jayanetti     August 6, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Buckinghamshire County Council is slashing funding for domestic violence programmes and children in care in one of the most blatant examples yet of a local authority targeting the most vulnerable.

A meeting of the full council this week agreed to the cuts, with Conservative members voting the cuts through in the face of concern from Lib Dem councillors who wanted more time to allow consultation.
continue reading… »

Conservative council makes the vulnerable face most cuts

by Chaminda Jayanetti     July 28, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Adult care is a highly pressured area of local government spending at the best of times, with councils racking up overspends even as public spending grew. Now this unfashionable area of public spending is increasingly taking a hit.

Take a bow, London Borough of Havering. With its Conservative-run council trying to save £19m over the next three years – and possibly £50m over five years – adult care users are being told to chip in.

The increased charges were approved at a recent council cabinet meeting (item 8 here) and will now go out to consultation.
continue reading… »

Government admits housing benefit cuts will increase homelessness

by Chaminda Jayanetti     July 26, 2010 at 11:01 am

The government has admitted that its planned cuts to housing benefit entitlement may make it harder for claimants to find housing and could force families to move further from where they work.

Last month’s Budget introduced a cap on the level of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) paid to claimants, and cut the level of LHA to the 30th percentile of rents in each area, rather than the median – reducing the number of properties that claimants will be able to afford.

Last week the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published its equality impact assessment into the changes, which admitted that the cuts would hit some families hard.
continue reading… »

¦ ¦