We were very pleased that you were re-elected and fended off the attempt to return the LP to “New Labour” and its programme of unfair cuts to public services. It’s clear that you have the support of hundreds of thousands of people who want to campaign against austerity. That’s the immediate gain for declaring Labour to be an “anti-austerity party” and points the way to winning mass support at a future general election.
So we are writing to you on behalf of 1,000 Cumbrians to ask you to use your influence on your members on Cumbria county council in the hope that they will scrap their plan to halve the number of care home beds under their direct control.
The seven local authority owned care homes in Cumbria don’t meet statutory standards and have to be replaced by new ones with better facilities – which we all support, of course. But the council has announced plans to halve the number of beds it will provide from 117 to 60 to save costs. Together with plans from the cynically misnamed “Success Regime” (sent into Cumbria by NHS bosses acting on behalf of the government) to close the beds in several cottage hospitals, these short-sighted cuts will inevitably lead to a crisis in social care and in the local NHS too. Respite care will become all but impossible; leaving old or frail people at home and relying on short home visits (which exclude shopping, cooking, housework etc) are a cop-out from social responsibility; and one consequence will be increased “bed-blocking” of hospital beds.
In recent years Blairite Labour county councillors have used coalitions with the Tories (yes, with the Tories!) and now with the Lib-Dems to dutifully implement Osborne’s deficit reduction plan, without any serious opposition. Now they are attacking the most vulnerable members of our community by implementing cuts to social care, public health and school nurses determined by Osborne’s last April budget – as part of a timetable now abandoned by Osborne and May as unachievable. The crisis in social care is having such an effect on the NHS that even Hammond may make concessions in his Autumn Statement.
We therefore ask you to set a clear signal of Labour’s new course by calling on your county councillors to stop these cuts. The new care homes must at least maintain if not improve the current provision, with the required number of staff.
This is an opportunity to show the public that Tory cuts are not aimed at “cutting waste” in a “bloated bureaucracy” but about permanently destroying historical social gains and vital, frontline services. Labour councillors should therefore make a public demand for the government to provide the necessary funds.
Jeremy, ordinary people here are outraged by this latest attack. Not one person has publicly defended it. Over 1,000 people have already come to our stall to sign our petition and express their anger. We’ve heard them call local councillors all sorts of names, but “heroes” wasn’t one of them. We know that you and your supporters are honest in opposing austerity and offering a clear alternative policy, but seeing “Labour” councillors just doing the Tories’ dirty work for them will damage the credibility of your message. Action speaks louder than words, and this planned action seems almost designed to sabotage the attempt by you and your activists to inspire and mobilise the poorest and most downtrodden to help you oust the Tories.
Please act now.
Secretary, Carlisle Socialist Party