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More than 10,000 uniformed police officer posts will disappear by the end of next year in England and Wales, Labour Party research suggests.
The coalition government has maintained that frontline jobs can be protected, despite the 20% police budget cuts by 2014-15 ser by the Comprehensive Spending Review.
But Labour Party research, which gathered figures from 42 police authorities in England and Wales – except the British Transport Police – suggests the party claims cannot be realised.
It says a total of 10,190 police officers are to be cut.
Shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said: “Cutting so fast and so deep into police budgets is crazy. It is completely out of touch with communities across the country who want to keep bobbies on the beat.
“How do they think it helps the fight against crime to force so many experienced police officers onto their pensions or trained police community support officers on to the dole, leaving the rest of the force overstretched as a result?
“Chief constables are being put in an impossible position. They are working hard to fight crime, but the government is pulling the rug from underneath them.”
Based on October’s CSR, it is estimated 1,600 jobs could be lost across Wales’ four forces over the next four years.
South Wales Police alone faces a £47m funding gap over the four years, which equates to 688 officers and staff whose jobs could be lost.
Unison Gwent Police branch secretary, Linda Sweet, said last week that compulsory job losses look unavoidable. On Friday February 4, she predicted 350 jobs would be cut from the force.
At the end of January, Police Authorities Wales (PAW) agreed to collaborate in key areas to cut costs to try to maintain front line services.
Think tanks have warned that police cuts may have disastrous consequences. In January, Civitas said criminals are less likely to get caught, as police numbers are cut over the coming years.
The report, 2011: The start of a great decade for criminals? said “a nation with fewer police is more likely to have a higher crime rate”.
Similarly, the head of the Police Federation warned last September that proposed cuts would leave the public less safe. Paul McKeever, the federation’s chairman, said the most vulnerable in society would be worst hit, and predicted crime levels will go up.
It’s been a tumultuous year for British politics.
The 13-year Labour reign came to an end, and for the first time in 36 years Britain witnessed a hung parliament. David Cameron and Nick Clegg married in the Downing Street rose garden, promising “new politics”, and Ed Miliband became the youngest Labour leader since World War II.
In recent months protesters have taken to the streets to vent their hatred towards the rise in tuition fee rises and the slashing of EMA. The coalition darling, Vince Cable, fell from grace this week after divulging too much to what he thought were two constituents.
Political memoirs have proliferated, as Brown, Blair and Mandelson reflect on their time in government. Britain witnessed the first televised leaders debates, followed by ‘Clegg-mania’ and a more American-style election culture. As Michael Jeremy, ITV’s Director of News, Current Affairs and Sport, told students during his lecture last month, this was an unprecedented event which has totally transformed the way voters engage with politics. After 15 drafts and countless compromises, Clegg Cameron and Brown finally took to the stage and debated in public. Hailed by Jeremy as a “success for a democracy”, the debates are probably the most significant development in coverage of British political life.
So what does the future hold for those walking the corridors of power?
Miliband will be pressed to formulate an alternative strategy, after being mocked by the Tories on a weekly basis in the panto that is Prime Minister’s Questions.
The Lib Dems are likely to come under increasing pressure from voters, as they backtrack on the promises they made on the campaign trail. Accused of being “held hostage” by the coalition government, the Lib Dems will need to carve out their own identity, and restore people’s faith in the party, which many predict will split and splinter. Clegg looks set to be in dire need of some tweezers.
The Tories’ concept of the “Big Society” has gone down like a lead balloon, with widespread confusion about what the idea actually means. Eric Pickle’s desire to empower “communities” and cut the red tape has raised eyebrows, as the logistics of the plans come under scrutiny. It does, however, look set to dominate the 2011 agenda.
The brutality of the VAT rise and cuts to local government will come to fruition next year, as thousands more lose their jobs and homes.
Who knows what the future holds for our politicians, but it will be fascinating to see the melodrama unfold. ‘Clameron’ is keen to convince voters we’ve moved into an era of “new politics”, but voters don’t seem to have bought it. The public’s opposition has dominated the news agenda in recent months, and the sense of betrayal is mounting. But of course voters have a short memory, and it remains to be seen whether the newlyweds will be forgiven at the next ballot box.
Leisure services, parks and libraries across England are likely to suffer, as councils are to face cuts of almost 10% next year in their core central government funding.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced that councils will lose much of the financial support they receive from central government.
Pickles announced an average 4.4% cut in the spending power of councils next year, and said the “formula grant” from Whitehall would be reduced by 9.9% in 2011/2012 and by 7.3% in 2012/2013.
But he did not give the exact figures for cuts to councils’ revenue support grant.
As it stands, local authorities in England are funded in two main ways: through central government grants (which include redistributed business rates), and council tax.
Central government grant money pays for capital projects, such as roads or school buildings, as well as revenue spending, such as the cost of maintaining council housing and running services.
Local authorities currently receive three types of central government revenue grants to fund local services:
1) The first are specific grants, which pay for individual services, such as key government priorities. This money is ring-fenced and must be used in the way specified.
2) The second are area-based grants, which pay for services deemed by a council and its partners to be local priorities.
3) The third are formula grants, which are calculated using mathematical formulae based on, among other things, the local council tax base and how many people rely on local services. These will be reduced by 9.9% in 2011/2012.
Bristol council buildings
Councils in England are going to lose a big chunk of the financial support they receive from central government, as government support is to be cut by 27% over the next four years.
That is a cut of several billion pounds in their primary source of income. Comparable cuts are also expected in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The hardest hit areas will lose 8.9% of their spending power for two years. These include Ashfield, Great Yarmouth, Barrow-in-Furness, Hastings, Bolsover, Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Chesterfield, Preston, Copeland, and Thanet.
Pickles did however promise that no local authority would undergo a decrease of more than 8.9% in 2011/12, as a result of the grant reductions.
He also said £650mn would be set aside so every council could freeze council tax without hitting local services. The government will provide those who freeze council tax with the equivalent of a 2.5% increase in funding.
Furthermore, Pickles promised to help protect frontline budgets by providing £200m to help councils modernise and cut back office costs.
The government is also proposing a Localism Bill, which aims to empower local residents and communities so they, not the state, take more responsibility for services and decision-making.
Forming a key part of the government’s “big society” agenda, the Bill will give local people and organisations the right to buy community assets like shops and pubs. It will also allow them to overrule planning decisions, empower them to create directly elected mayors in 12 cities, and allow them to approve or veto “excessive” council tax rises.
Pickles said today: “The Localism Bill will deliver a new democratic settlement to councils, overturning decades of central government control.
“The Bill will fundamentally change councils’ freedom to act in the interest of their local communities through a new general power of competence.”
Concerns have been raised, however, about how this agenda can be achieved without more money.
Paul Brant, Labour deputy leader of Liverpool Council, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “Some of these reported powers are illusory. The government is making savage cuts to local government finance… Without the money, some services will just fall off the edge.”
Leisure services, parks and playgrounds are likely to be affected
Shadow communities secretary, Caroline Flint, told the BBC: “Today we find out what the government really plans to devolve to local councils – the most devastating cuts in funding for a generation and the blame for difficult decisions.”
The coalition government will go ahead with plans to raise tuition fees, after the policy was approved by 21 votes this evening.
The vote was announced after a five-hour debate in the House of Commons. The coalition motion, backed by 323 votes to 302, would raise fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year.
Some 21 Lib Dems rebelled, while 27 – including the party’s ministers – backed the change. Eight, including Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes, abstained.
Lib Dem MPs Mike Crockart and Jenny Willott resigned as junior ministerial aides to enable themselves to vote against the fees rise, followed by Conservative Lee Scott.
Jenny Willott is due to resign
As well as Labour, all 12 MPs from Northern Ireland are thought to have rejected the proposals, along with SNP and Plaid Cymru members, and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas.
These events took place against a backdrop of mass protests, as hundreds of students took to the streets of Westminster. This is the third protest against increasing tuition fees.
Tuition fee protests earlier this month
Scotland Yard says 10 police officers have been hurt in clashes between police and students. Three are in hospital, and one has suffered a serious neck injury.
So far 15 arrests have been made.
At the time of writing, protesters are attacking the Supreme Court building in Parliament Square. They are not thought to have got in.
The BBC has reported an attack on the car containing the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, as they travelled through central London on the way to the Royal Variety Show. Their car was kicked as they drove along Regent Street, and paint was thrown. Their window is rumoured to have been smashed. The BBC are discussing a “serious lapse in security”.
Student protesters remain in Parliament Square. One BBC reported said “there are a group here who clearly are not ready to go home”.