Talking politics: Tim Swift, leader, Calderdale Council

Pupils at Brighouse High School

Pupils at Brighouse High School

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Council leader Tim Swift discusses the impact of Government cuts to public services, including our local schools.

This Conservative Government – like the coalition before-hand – tries really hard to avoid any responsibility for the cuts they are making to public services.

I think this is a dishonest approach; if they believe that less money should be spent on public services then they should say so, and tell us just what their plans are.

Instead the Government prefers to tell half a tale, quoting global figures that take no account of changing needs, rather than setting out what their decisions really mean for local people.

We’ve seen this with local changes to the NHS, where major policies such as the proposed hospital reconfiguration are developed and brought forward by local managers, trusts and commissioning groups.

We all know that behind these changes likes the stark reality of an underfunded National Health Service thanks to Government policy – but it’s easy to end up in arguments with local managers and forgot where the real responsibility lies.

Your local council of course faces exactly the same problems.

As we work on producing the Council’s budget for next year, we expect to have to find at least another £13 million per year in annual savings.

That’s on top of £95 million already found since 2010.

And yet instead of making the case for cutting services, time and again this summer we’ve seen local Conservative councillors complaining that the Council should be spending more on services. And at the same time they refuse to join with us in telling the Government that “enough is enough” and that we deserve fair funding to support local public services. Will this time be different? I’m not holding my breath!

Local school budgets are quickly becoming another example of the Government’s hidden spending cuts.

Behind the headline figures, most schools across the country are going to face real terms cuts in their budget by 2020.

Two of the teaching unions have got together to produce a website that spells out what Government policy will actually mean - and the figures are very stark.

Across Calderdale, schools will be £10m worse off in real terms by 2020. At a local school level, the impact is stark.

The Halifax Academy is one of the worst hit, and stands to be almost £900,000 worse off – that’s over £900 per pupil. Trinity Academy fairs little better, whilst at Primary level schools like Warley Road Academy face the loss of almost £700 per pupil.

These are just some examples – check out the site at www.schoolcuts.org.uk to see how every local school is affected.

These changes will have a huge impact on local schools in the next four years.

If the Government think they are justified, then they should come out publicly and explain them.

If they cannot do so, then they need to think again before our children’s education is damaged irrevocably.