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Shocking cuts to local services revealed

December 11, 2019 3:40 PM
By Unison

The true scale of almost a decade of savage austerity cuts to local communities across Britain have been revealed in a study by UNISON, which shows the impact of huge reductions in council funding.

A series of freedom of information (FoI) requests across England, Scotland and Wales examined the changes in local services between 2010 and 2019 for several key council services, including youth centres, public toilets, libraries and subsidised bus routes.

The FoI findings, using data for 330 local authorities show the human cost of the cutbacks:

- A total of 859 children's centres and family hubs (which provide support services for babies, young people and families) have been closed, while 940 youth centres have been lost.

- More than a fifth (21%) of public toilets have closed, with more than 835 public conveniences disappearing since 2010.

- The number of council-subsidised bus routes has decreased by almost a third (32%), a reduction of more than 1,224 services, increasing the isolation of many living in rural communities.

- More than one in five (22%) libraries have either closed, been privatised or are now staffed by volunteers. This is a decrease of 738 council-run libraries. Over the past decade there's been a ten-fold rise in the number run by volunteers, up from 21 to 227.

Central government cuts have led to a 17% fall in council spending on local services in England since 2010. Between then and the end of the decade, grant funding for councils in England has been reduced by £16bn and there have also been significant cuts for councils in Wales and Scotland.

UNISON is calling for an end to the cuts to funding for councils. UNISON believes investment in local government services is long overdue.