As the cull of local government jobs and services continues apace, Birmingham has announced it is to shed 430 posts, in addition to those already lost. The Press Association reports the GMB union’s warnings that the cuts will hit children’s services and Connexions as the council grapples with £6.1m of in-year cuts.
Longer term, Birmingham is looking to save £230m over the next four years. The GMB fears that could translate to 10,000 job cuts.
The King’s Fund healthcare think tank has warned that the government’s moves to hand NHS commissioning budgets to GPs could lead to a decline in funding for public health initiatives such as anti-smoking and anti-drinking campaigns.
Primary care trusts are currently responsible for running public health campaigns, but this power is to be transferred to local authorities, leading the King’s Fund to warn that GP commissioners could stop engaging in public health initiatives.
The Department for Education has reportedly told local authorities to freeze spending on new playgrounds, as it prepares to cut £65m from the Playbuilder budget next month. The cut will apparently mean 1,400 new playgrounds are cancelled nationwide. The Playbuilder grant has already been de-ringfenced, meaning local authorities can use the money how they wish – often meaning they use it to paper over cuts in other areas.
And finally, in a classic example of how some of us are more ‘in it together’ than others, the government has admitted that it spends more than £15m a year to send the children of diplomats and military officers to private schools such as Fettes, Winchester and Marlborough.
The logic – applied both by the current government and its predecessor – is that as these diplomats and officers spend time abroad, it is best for their children to go to boarding school rather than move abroad with their parents. And the perk continues even after the parents return to Britain, because it would not be in the child’s interest to have to change schools midway through their education. It’s about continuity, you see.
Continuity, of course, that is suddenly of no concern to ministers when their housing benefit changes will force families to leave their home and move to a different locality, taking their children with them.