It has been only a few weeks since Chancellor George Osborne proclaimed his controversial budget for this financial year. Continuing to run the nation with precarious state services and the dismissal of government responsibilities is having a considerably negative impact on our local communities. To top it all off, the implementation of such unjustifiable hits to the most impoverished is proving to be nothing short of painful to watch.
It goes without saying that the financial impact on local communities has become increasingly obvious over recent months. David Cameron’s ‘big society’ must be questioned. The Conservative government’s economy is failing many citizens, instead playing into the hands of business tycoons and their established treasure troves. The Institute for Fiscal Studies showed last year that nearly two thirds of impoverished children are part of working families. Furthermore, recent Labour party calculations showed that the Tory government is deliberately choosing to fund the rich and hurt the poor. The highly likely closure of Port Talbot through a lack of state support and vehement disregard for viable EU solutions will plunge an entire local economy into an abyss of unemployment and household disparity.
In years gone by, communities were united not only economically, but also by culture and vibrant civil societies. Osborne’s cuts aren’t only destructive towards local economies, but towards community soft power, too. Funding for councils and regional developments has been significantly scaled back in recent years and will continue to be cut under the Tories until the next general election. The amenities, initiatives and organisations which should unite and support citizens are ceasing to function adequately.
Our auras of interdependence and unity are rapidly vanishing. Scotland-wide, valuable music education initiatives for children are coming to a halt as councils are increasingly starved of funding and resources. Music, developing social and educational skills, and which unites pupils, educators, and organisations of all sorts will stop bringing people together in regions such as Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, and Perthshire. Further to this, the virtues of institutions like our public libraries will soon disappear as they face challenging times. The opportunities for children and adults alike to become lost in literature, nurturing their educational development may never be found again. In England, the lesser-spotted comprehensive is an endangered species, and may soon be extinct. As the state rids itself of responsibility, our prized educational facilities will soon operate in separate, closed off administrations. Our unique ethoses of community spirit, teamwork and co-operation are being struck down as our tight-knit townships are, quite literally, torn apart.
It seems that we in fact are not ‘all in it together’ like our leader proclaimed six years ago. The Tory long-term economic plan is not working for local government. The nation’s economy has, of course, had large-scale successes with increased growth and boosted employment. But respect for communities is still to come into view once again. What will fragment our communities next? Poorly maintained infrastructure? A disappearance of lush green spaces? Perhaps even our vital NHS, already split throughout Manchester due to low funds and patchy governance. Neighbourhoods, public services and their governance are no longer operations which involve collaboration and unity, as we are each forced back into our shells. The Conservatives’ cuts are causing stark divides within our societies which, until local communities are truly supported, will develop into even wider crevasses.