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£11.3bn the amount councils are losing through cuts to central government grants

Council services are with you in the good times – births, marriages, leisure, learning – and the bad times – illness, floods, abuse, homelessness.

But now the services that were built up over many years to make your community a decent and safe place to live are being dismantled.

The facts

The coalition government has undertaken a programme of spending cuts on local councils at an unprecedented scale. The public is suffering now as services are disappearing, and the cuts will have a devastating long-term impact.

Council funding is being cut by £11.3 billion

The “formula grant” is the main grant paid to councils by the government: under it, for every £1 received by councils in 2010/11, they got just 73.6p in 2013/14. This is before the effects of inflation are taken into account.

In total the government plans to slash grants to councils by £11.3bn by 2015/16.

More than 500,000 council workers have lost their jobs since 2010.

The rich have had their taxes cut by £9 billion

At the same time as cutting much-needed council funding the government has chosen to give tax cuts worth £4bn a year to top-rate taxpayers and £5bn a year to large company shareholders.

Cuts to local services hit young people, women and the vulnerable

Three-quarters of local government workers are women, which means job cuts are affecting them the most. Women also use public services the most so suffer most when they’re gone.

Download: Counting the cost: how council cuts shrink women’s lives (PDF)

When public services are axed it’s mainly women who “fill the gaps”.

The elderly, people with disabilities and children living in poverty rely on public spending. These groups are being hit hard by cuts and the long-term impact this will have on society and the economy is huge.

Almost £60 million has been cut from council budgets for parks

UNISON research into the impact of cuts on women found that 60% of those who use parks and open spaces said services had got worse over the past year. Of those, 65% said there were fewer staff, 54% said opening hours had been reduced, and 42% said equipment and facilities were old. In total £59.4m has been cut from council budgets for parks and open spaces. Research by the Heritage Lottery Fund found that 86% of council parks departments in the UK have cut budgets, 81% have lost skilled staff since 2010 and 45% of councils are considering selling or outsourcing their parks.

Read this story in the Mirror

Over £82 million has been cut from budgets for children’s centres

UNISON research shows that since 2010, 285 children’s centres have closed or merged and over the last three years over £82m has ben cut from children’s centre budgets. Our research into the impact of cuts on women revealed that 60% of women who use children’s centres said there are now fewer types of support available, 69% said there were fewer staff and 59% said there were shorter operating hours.

Research from the Family and Childcare Trust shows that almost a fifth (17%) of parents had to call in sick last year in order to manage childcare during the six week summer holiday, at a cost of nearly one million working days across the UK. In England and Wales only 27% of local councils had enough holiday childcare for working parents, and 25% of parents were forced to cut their hours during school holidays.

Almost £260 million has been cut from youth services

According to UNISON research, since 2012 councils have shut at least 350 youth centres, 41,000 youth service places for young people have been cut, and at least 35,000 hours of outreach work by youth workers have been removed. Since 2010 £259 million has been cut from youth service spending by councils.

Investing in public services is vital for local jobs and local business

For every £1 spent, 64p is put back into the local economy. Fewer jobs and worse terms and conditions mean there’s less money in the local economy, which is bad for local businesses.

For every 100 council jobs cut, another 30 will be lost in the private sector, leading to a downward spiral in employment prospects for local people.

Sports and leisure

New figures from Sport England show record numbers of people are playing sport – and the largest growth has been among young people. But cuts to local facilities mean in future many youngsters will have to miss out.

UNISON’s research shows that:

  • Councils have cut over  £71m from leisure centre budgets since 2010, a 14% cut overall.
  • 62% of women who use local leisure services said that they had got worse over the past year. The top four issues were: Fewer staff (65%), Shorter opening/operating hours (55%), Old equipment/facilities (43%) and Fee increases (42%).
  • Some UNISON branches have reported that some council swimming pools are replacing lifeguards with camera systems – raising real safety concerns.

The Football Association has said that:

  • 80% of amateur football is played on council-run grass pitches
  • The pitches are in an “abhorrent state” – suffering from water-logging and over-use
  • The cost of hiring pitches has gone up dramatically – up to 300% in some cases

Research from the British Heart Foundation has found that:

  • NHS providers in England spent over £900 million in 2009/10 treating people with diseases that could have been prevented if more people were physically active.

Here are some quotes from UNSON members about the affect of cuts on sports and leisure facilities:

“As a family we previously enjoyed… a free swimming session on a Sunday morning and we are no longer able to do so as there is now a cost attached. During school holidays our local Sure Start centre offered free family swims, I was always unconfident to attend alone so my sister in-law would come … however this has now been limited to families who only live within that specific area of the city so we all miss out as my sister in-law cannot afford to pay for herself and her children.”

“Unable to use facilities as much – for example my children used to be able to go swimming for free – they would go as often as possible. Now they have to pay so are not able to go. Obviously their fitness and health is suffering due to the cuts.”

“Swimming lessons/sessions cancelled for weeks when part of the ventilation system fell into the pool. It appears that regular inspections/maintenance have not been carried out due to cuts.”