The Tories have recently been spreading the story that Labour councils are making deeper cuts than Tory ones, for essentially political reasons. Evidence was adduced in the forms of the number of “at risk” notices issued to staff, which were higher in Labour than Tory authorities. Labour Councillor Pete Robbins felt instinctively that this was untrue. He dug deeper into the issue and found the opposite was the case – and his findings were published in the Guardian today.
- Labour councils tended to be larger than Tory councils – big urban unitaries as against smaller districts discharging fewer functions, so the crude numbers would also look higher;
- Tory councils have got away with much lighter cuts but are shedding more jobs. Based on GMB figures, Tory councils have suffered a total cash cut of £589m and are cutting 48,124 jobs; Labour councils have lost £834m but are cutting 25% fewer jobs – 36,016.
In other words, Labour councils are doing more to protect jobs, not less – in the face of expenditure cuts which hit urban (and therefore Labour) councils harder. In other words, not only is Pickles making bogus claims but is doing so in the context of his own decisions which are widely regarded as being motivated by ideology and party politics.
There are a lot of deeply unpleasant and duplicitous things going on within a Government that is clearly following an ideological agenda, and I’ve commented elsewhere in this blog about the culture of bullying that characterises the coalition. But it’s very clear that the epicentre of the dishonesty and bullying is Pickles at the DCLG.