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Letter: Whitehall Starves Councils But Finds Billions to Give Their Party Donors

Published on: 13 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 13 Nov, 2020

From: Peta Malthouse

In response to: As Council Cuts Loom ‘Those Affected Are Going to Scream’

Perhaps, like Croydon, the council should indicate pending bankruptcy. The government has made a conscious choice to starve local authorities of funds.

They are the party of restricted bureaucracy and minimal services provided by local government so one surely cannot be surprised to see that instead of empowering and funding local authorities in this time of crisis they have instead centralised services.

Look at their plans for a unitary authority and their proposals for planning matters in the future. I think we have cut enough. I like my services delivered locally and the borough councillors should be aware.

I do not think it appropriate to meekly deliver these appalling cuts. Please don’t tell me there is no money tree. The government finds them all the time for their own pet projects.

They have happily entered into contracts with their mates and party donors during this crisis and are being sued by a cross-party group because they are refusing to comply with our own law.

Apparently, they have approved some contracts knowing they are allowing for a 35 to 40% profit margin. Billions have been spent and they haven’t even got the goods they contracted for in some cases, according to the questions asked in Parliament at PMQs and of the cabinet secretary and Michael Gove today (November 12).

Sadly, instead of replying to the questions asked, ministers just bat them away and do not even make a commitment to look at the contracts referred to. Where is our MP in all this? At least Anne Milton used to bat for us.

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Responses to Letter: Whitehall Starves Councils But Finds Billions to Give Their Party Donors

  1. Caroline Perkins Reply

    November 13, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Peta Malthouse need not worry. As soon as our MP finds out that simply cutting and pasting everything Boris says is not representing the people who vote for her, as soon as she finds out that she looks foolish every time the “Great Man” changes his mind, then she might realise that she is meant to represent our views to Parliament rather than Boris’s views to us.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    November 14, 2020 at 10:44 am

    Just printing money or “quantitative easing”, to use the euphemism, because someone needs some more, has only come about since the dropping of the gold standard. It is time that people realized simply demanding money, with political menaces, has simply got to stop.

    Claiming a pound just because your neighbour has a pound and when he has two demanding you have two, leads to inflation and worthless currency.

    It’s not a case of a glass half full or half empty, it is the wrong size of glass. We must cut our coat according to our cloth as the old saying goes. But in this case, printing money to feed inefficiency and businesses which have never been financially viable because of high property costs, will not work and expected profits extracted by directors before paying their dues, simply has to stop.

    • S Peters Reply

      November 15, 2020 at 9:56 am

      Jim Allen is completely missing the point. Nobody is “demanding” a pound simply because their neighbour has one. What people want is the bare modicum of public services we could reasonably consider the world’s sixth-richest country to have in place for its residents who pay increasingly more in taxes for those services. Services that this country provided far more of when in far worse shape – such as Attlee’s post-war government which built the NHS, invested in social housing and pulled millions out of poverty while turning around a debt of nearly 300% GDP.

      It’s sad to have to keep repeating it, but national debt does not function like household debt. Investment is the way to reduce it, not cuts – this has been proven both theoretically and in practice over and over again, across the world.

      Quantitative easing is not the only way or the best way to provide these services. Even if we assumed there is “no money” (as we’ve been told for the last decade despite seeing hundreds of billions wasted on ‘contracts for chums’, nuclear missiles we can’t use, opening up more tax loopholes and sweetheart deals, countless white elephants, subsidies for fossil fuels, etc), current interest rates mean this is the best time to allow borrowing for local councils.

      Peta Malthouse in her letter is absolutely right. I would only add that the funding cuts to local councils we’ve seen over the last decade are not random, but in fact extremely cynical – non-Tory councils have seen significantly bigger cuts – and in the most recent examples of PPE contracts, equipment has not even been provided at all, while much more has been of such poor quality it is unusable.

      Nearly £4bn also remains completely unaccounted for, which is what the cross-party group is taking the government to court to uncover – but of the figures on the untendered contracts we know of, hundreds of millions appear to have gone to utterly unrelated companies, such as sweet wholesalers and travel agents, often, as luck would have it, with connections to the party.

      For another example, take the £12bn test and trace failure led not by the NHS, as we are repeatedly told, but Serco – hiring students on minimum wage for jobs that require Level 6 clinical qualifications and reaching less than 60% of potentially infected people, compared to local councils reaching over 97% at a far lower cost.

      This is far more than simple negligent incompetence – it is deliberate.

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