Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Lewisham Council Cuts - "When Services Go, People Suffer"

As Lewisham is dubbed the “most violent place to live in the country”, Lewisham Council prepares to finalise a £1 Million cut in its Crime Reduction budget.

According to today’s Evening Standard, Lewisham has been rated in the “UK Peace Index” Report, calculated using rates of homicide, weapons crime and other factors, as the least ‘peaceful’ Local Authority in Britain.

The press are happy to sensationalise crime while failing to condemn the poverty which this report shows is at the root of the problem. Lewisham residents also know that headlines like the Standard’s can exaggerate most people’s everyday experience. However, for those people who have been victims of crime, particularly youth, the effects can be long-lasting.

What is Lewisham Council’s response? It is to finalise a £40 million cuts package being voted on at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting on Wednesday February 11th. Alongside a £1M cut to the Crime Reduction budget, these cuts include a shocking £9.7M reduction in Health and Social Care budgets and a cut in the community grants budget by up to £1.5M.

The proposed cuts to the Crime Reduction budget are:
· £604k to be cut from Drug and Alcohol Services, including residential rehabilitation.
· £200 k in cuts to the Youth Offending Service
· £200K from cuts to the Integrated Offender Management Service

The Council’s own papers from last September, when these cuts were first considered, admitted that these cuts will come at a cost. For example, on the IOM proposal, it said:

“Those who are involved in the criminal justice system are notoriously difficult to engage in drug/alcohol treatment services. Without additional support this engagement is even less likely which means that their criminal activity is likely to continue with all the associated impacts on other Lewisham residents”.

“Generally the impact of the service will be on those who would otherwise receive it. As young men from BME communities are over represented in the criminal justice system the impact there is likely to be increased. There is also a general impact on those who are victims of crime and the same group are again over represented”.

Martin Powell-Davies, prospective parliamentary candidate in Lewisham West and Penge for TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, said:

“These cuts can only further damage our community. It doesn't matter if the cuts are carried out enthusiastically by Tories, like neighbouring Bromley, or with a heavy heart by Labour in Lewisham. When services go, people suffer.

Instead of crying crocodile tears, Lewisham’s Labour Councillors should stand by the needs of local people and refuse to carry them out. Like TUSC, they should demand that the next Government stops the cuts and funds services to meet needs.

TUSC is one of the local groups and trade unions supporting a Lobby of Lewisham Council to protest against the cuts on Wednesday 25th February, from 6.30 pm outside the Town Hall”.

1: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/london-is-home-to-the-uks-ten-most-violent-places-to-live-8585956.html

2: http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=119&MId=3450

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