What will these people do?

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Norfolk County Council has announced its cuts to try to meet government demands for cuts:

Proposed cuts in council services include:

£6m a year on spending on prevention services for older people;

£1.2m by cutting subsidies to the meals on wheels service;

£4m scrapping funding for youth services which supports up to 20,000 children;

£2.4m a year cuts to look after children in care;

£2m by scrapping subsidy for school and college transport for over 16s — leaving parents and carers to pick up £784 a year bill;

£1.3m cuts to family support work including help to reduce teenage pregnancies;

£2m from the park and ride budget, which could see some sites closed;

£2m by reducing the size of the core bus network and relying on more “dial-a-ride” services particularly in rural areas.

Let’s be realistic about what these cuts means:

- Children suffer

- The old suffer

- The vulnerable suffer

- Transport for those who cannot drive wherever they wish suffer

But let’s also be clear:

1) These cuts will increase crime amongst young people — who will have less to do — but there won’t be police3 to deal with it

2) These cuts will massively increase demand on the NHS — which has no extra funding to deal with that demand and will have many fewer GP appointments as significant amounts of GP time is diverted into running the NHS and its budget — which can only happen by hour to hour, one to one cuts in patient facing time (most GPs already work 11 hour days already — there is no ‘spare time’ to give to their new responsibilities).

So what chance that these cuts will work? Very little, I think?

But there’s more to it than that. The people who run these services — lowly paid by and large — want to work with the young, the old, in caring for fellow human beings. The private sector is not going to provide these people with those jobs — because the state is not going to pay them to provide them — and nor is The Big Society — let’s be realistic.

So what are these employees — some 3,000 of them — who are to lose their jobs going to do? What private sector activity is going to give them the work they want — or the work they can do? I' can’t imagine what it is.

So this is a potential disaster for all involved — the young, the old, the employees who will lose and those who will face an impossible burden in the remaining jobs.

The result will be devastating for Norfolk as a whole and a tragedy for the particular people involved. But worse — when many of those who will be unemployed as a result of these changes will themselves be claiming benefit in future when they could be providing invaluable services — this is an unnecessary disaster.

And what we have to do is work out how the money can be found — as it must be found — to facilitate the needs of society as it apparently can be to meet the needs of banks.

I believe this will be possible — but I admit that’s an act of faith at present because the model does not exist right now. But for the young, the old, the employees and people of Norfolk we need it. Or these people will be living diminished lives. And I find that unacceptable.