Edinburgh Council urged to reject austerity agenda

By agency reporter
11 Feb 2014

The most vulnerable people in Edinburgh, the elderly and schoolchildren are among those who would be badly affected if the City Council goes ahead with its 2014-2015 budget proposals on 13 February, say local campaigners who will be lobbying the budget meeting.

Edinburgh East Save Our Services and Edinburgh TUC, along with other community groups and trade unions, will be making this point through a protest at the City Chambers from 8.30am on Thursday.

They will be urging the SNP/Labour coalition council to drop its austerity plans, which campaigners fear will devastate already hard-hit local services and target local people already suffering under the Westminster government's benefit cuts.

Councillors will be discussing 'savings' of £36 million in the next year alone, resulting in increased costs of care for the elderly and disabled; reduced provision for disabled people; increase in class sizes; and the closure of school libraries.

Costs will also be saved, say the council, in more competitive procurement of outsourced services. But local campaigners argue that this will only result in even lower wages and worse conditions for staff of council-funded organisations.

It is estimated that these workers will see a 25 per cent drop in their wages by 2018.

Anti-cuts activists are asking councillors to honour their pledge when they came into office in 2012 to reduce poverty and improve services in the city.

They will be urging them in particular to stand by their moral duty to defend the vulnerable and to consider other ways of making savings, such as reviewing the salaries of their top earners; revisiting the higher levels of the council tax; rescheduling the repayment of interest on PFI contracts; and imposing a tourist tax on city hotels and businesses.

The leaders of the City of Edinburgh Council say that they are doing their best to mitigate severe restrictions and cuts imposed from Westminster and further handed down, in different ways, by Holyrood.

The Scottish government argues that it needs full revenue and tax-raising powers, plus the economic levers offered by independence, to begin to create a different dynamic in national and local government, funding and service provision.

Campaigners against the cuts want the Council to begin to reject the austerity ideology and policies now.

* Edinburgh Ant-Cuts Alliance: http://edinburghagainstcuts.org.uk/?page_id=10

* Edinburgh TUC: http://www.edintuc.org.uk

* City of Edinburgh Council: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk

* Anti-Austerity Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/AntiAusterityAlliance

* On Scottish independence issues: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/scottishindependence

[Ekk/3]

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