After 8 years of cuts and spending caps, combined with gross mismanagement, has austerity finally broken Northampton?
A failed County Council has left services in disarray. Government commissioners are running the show, with the Tory administration trying to save face, until the Unitary authority of West Northants is imposed. Of course, when that happens they say, “all will be fine”.
Well a Unitary authority won’t make it “fine”. And it will have to be paid for. The failed administration will seek re-election with many of the same faces. The ones often denying any responsibility for their previous mistakes. So not only are services to the people of Northampton continuing to be slashed but we are paying for it. An extra £94 per year per band D household. £40 million is the estimate of the cost to set up the new Unitary council. How many services would that provide? How many more children will be left vulnerable? How many more victims of crime do we need before the government takes action?
The latest failing is the late payments for Nursery places. Providers are struggling to meet their staff wages bill because the county is incompetent. The providers can’t work for nothing. They need to pay overheads and pay their staff.
Payments to staff with additional qualifications meeting additional needs are having their allowances cut!
Children are failed again with school exclusions placing them at risk. The schools have had to cut staff, with fewer specialist teachers and fewer support staff. Teachers are leaving the profession as the reality of a 60 hour week burns them out, with new teachers leaving on average after 5 or 6 years.
So exclusions result, leaving vulnerable young adults free to be groomed into gang culture, where they are enticed with the rewards of the drug trade and manipulated by those running the county lines. Violent crime is impacting and involving our youngsters.
There will be no quick fixes. The damage has gone too deep. Injecting short term cash now will not reverse the long term cuts. We need to increase the numbers of Police and reinstate the fantastic Sure Start centre. We need more money for schools. In the meantime the damage continues.
This is the real cost of Austerity.