Welsh councils' huge reserves - while 23% of families are in desperate straits
13th August 2014
"You can only spend them once".
This was Chief Executive of the Welsh Local Government Association, Steve Thomas' explanation of why Welsh councils plan to make cuts of £7-800 million when it was revealed this week that they hold reserves of over £700 million.
Well no shit Sherlock! I hadn't realised before that you can only spend money once!
He also claims that the majority of those reserves are 'earmarked'. But even the £163 million plus that councils could use, according to Mr Thomas, could buy some much-needed time for councils and more importantly, for council workers and service users. But this would only be worth doing if Welsh councils, or more precisely, the 50% of them that are Labour-led, intended to use any such breathing space to build a campaign uniting local authority workers whose jobs are at risk with users of council services that are threatened.
Unfortunately Welsh Labour councils have been no more reluctant to pass on Con-Dem cuts than their Tory counterparts in England. Neither have the Welsh Labour Government.
No wonder a study by the Children's Society and Stepchange has found that 23% of Welsh families are struggling with household debt, getting behind on bills and failing to keep up loan repayments.
Apart from by-elections, working class communities in Wales won't get a chance to elect councillors willing to fight, rather than implement Con-Dem cuts until at least 2017. All the more reason for socialists to put forward an alternative in next year's general election. The constituent parts of the Trades Unionist & Socialist Coalition in Wales, including the Socialist Party and the RMT Union are meeting to plan where and who to stand.
When other parties are scrapping to see which one of them gets to make the cuts they all agree on, we will offer a no cuts, socialist alternative to as many working class communities in Wales as possible.
Ronnie Job, Swansea