latest ill-considered Tory election plan

Home Secretary James Cleverly has detailed the Conservative Party’s proposals for the national elections. He said the Tories would introduce community service for 18-year-olds who are not doing national service.

But the community work Cleverly said they could do also includes public sector jobs that the Tories have decimated with cuts. Apparently we should have unpaid 18 year olds working as ‘on-call firefighters’ or ‘special constables’:

Instead of simply funding our public services properly, the Tories are trying to get young people to work in them for free.

Community services thanks to austerity measures in Britain

Take the fire brigade. From 2013 to 2021, the Tories cut central funding for local fire authorities by 30%. Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigade Union, said:

More than a decade of Tory austerity has left the fire service overwhelmed, underfunded and poorly managed. Since 2010, we have lost 1 in 5 fire jobs, and a large number of stations and fire trucks. Response times are now at record levels.

In addition to firefighters, Cleverly said 18-year-olds could volunteer for “water conservation work.” But this is another area where the Tories have made cuts in the name of austerity, despite climate change bringing a greater risk of flooding in Britain.

Against the backdrop of budget cuts and fewer Environment Agency staff, the Tories have abandoned 40% of the homes they wanted to provide with better flood defenses by 2027.

The approach makes no sense, as repairing damage after a flood is a lot more expensive. This is clearly evident from the Return on Investment (RoI) on water protection expenditure.

For every pound the government spends, it can save up to £13 on repair work avoided.

Labour: more of the same in the general election

On the other hand, Labor leader Keir Starmer has not committed to reversing Tory cuts. In August 2023, 70 academics called on Labor to break with austerity orthodoxy:

Maintaining or extending austerity in the current economic climate will only exacerbate the poverty and hardship that many already face.

We believe that it is the duty of an opposition to present, where necessary, an alternative vision for the future and in the economic field.

The managers of both the Tory and Labor parties are both lying that there is no more money.

Moreover, it appears that the Tories want to offset some of their cuts by allowing 18-year-olds to work for free. And that applies to some of the country’s most important jobs. We deserve better.

Featured image via BBC i player

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