Defend York’s Libraries

The City Council budget targeted the Library services with a £200,000 savings from April 2013. That has since been increased to £250,000, which is 10% of their total budget. It comes on top of years of piecemeal restructuring and staffing reductions. It is the equivalent of nine branch libraries. The Council will make further cuts to funding in future years, regardless of which party is in control. Library management hope to hold off closures and compulsory redundancies this year, but will not be able to in future.

The Council say they want a ‘Co-operative’ alternative to the way the Library services are delivered, by creating a ‘Community Benefit Society’ (CBS). This would be funded by the Council but would operate Library services on behalf of the Council. There is no explanation or information as to how this Society will be created, how it will be organised, or what role its ‘members’ and ‘friends’ would have in controlling its activities.

Setting up a CBS is neither straightforward, nor cost-free. Either these costs will counter the savings being made, or (as seems more likely) they will be added to future savings demanded. There is no information as to what will happen in the event that the CBS proves to be unsustainable and can no longer meet the Council’s statutory responsibility to run the library service.

A genuine co-operative enterprise would be created by its members, who would own the buildings and stock and control the budget entirely. Co-operative members, whether employees or customers, should be in full democratic control of the enterprise. A co-operative cannot be imposed from above by bureaucrats who pull the purse strings, leave others to struggle with the consequences and pretend not to be responsible.

The Council have launched a ‘public consultation’, to conclude on 12 November, with a decision to be made in December. There is a questionnaire that is no more than a customer survey of what people want from their libraries and what they might offer as volunteers. There is no opportunity to comment on the idea of a Community Benefit Society. There is in any case not enough information on which to make an informed choice.

THIS ‘CONSULTATION’ IS A FAKE

What can you do?

1. Lobby your local councillor, opposing any cuts to the Library services, staffing and budget. There are two useful websites for finding your local councillor and how to contact them: WriteToThem allows you to enter your postcode and shows you your councillors; and City of York, Find Councillor provides a lot more detail about each councillor.

2. Tell your councillors you would prefer the Library service to remain in full Council control so that they are accountable to the electorate for any decisions.

3. Tell your councillors you will only support a properly democratic co-operative that has full control of its assets and budget and is run by its staff and its members, with a democratically elected Board.

4. Tell your councillors you will only volunteer if there are no staff cuts and no budget cuts. Refuse to do jobs that are currently done by paid employees.

5. Give expressions of support to library staff, personally and in writing, including the library management, who are doing their utmost to protect Library services in impossible circumstances.

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Sign our petition against cuts to social care in York!!!

Up and down the country the most vulnerable are taking the brunt of the cuts. People with disabilities and their carers are facing a predicted £9bn welfare cut and George Osborne has recently announced a further £10bn to be cut from welfare spending.

These financial blows have been accompanied by a government-led campaign of demonization. Quarterly releases of statistics of those refused employment support allowance and media demonization of those on benefits as scroungers and cheats have led to an increase in hate crimes against the vulnerable and those with disabilities. [1] This is despite the actual level of fraud being as low as 0.6%.[2] The results of this campaign can be seen both in the lack of public outcry in the face of unconscionable policy reform and in the rise of hate crimes against those with disabilities.

The local government is following this national trend in cutting care for around 200 residents who have been categorised as having “moderate” needs. Fair Access to Care services Guidance established the four- band eligibility framework in 2003.[3] The four bands are: critical, substantial, moderate and low.

Moderate – when

  • there is, or will be, an inability to carry out several personal care or domestic routines; and/or
  • involvement in several aspects of work, education or learning cannot or will not be sustained; and/or
  • several social support systems and relationships cannot or will not be sustained; and/or
  • several family and other social roles and responsibilities cannot or will not be undertaken.

The difference with the “low” designation is simply that the word ‘several’ is replaced by ‘one or two’.

The needs described above are important and withdrawal of support will have a substantial impact on the lives on individuals in our community. For those unable to afford or arrange support themselves how are they to carry out ‘personal care or domestic routines’? Is it right that they should be unable to participate in work or education? What about the personal relationships and general participation in the community?

In a 2008 report the Commission for Social Care Inspection found that councils that restricted care from moderate to substantial resulted in negligible savings.[4]The consequences of making these cuts will be more than negligible both to the individuals involved and to our community.

If you agree with us and want to be part of the campaign against these changes please go to http://democracy.york.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=164 to sign.


[2] In 2005 fraudulently claimed was found to be only 0.6% of benefit expenditure. DWP: Progress in tackling benefit fraud, National Audit Office 2008

[3] this was later superseded but without change in eligibility criteria by Prioritising need in the context of Putting People First: A whole system approach to eligibility for social care Guidance on Eligibility Criteria for Adult Social Care, England 2010.

October 20th – A Future That Works

Well, we are now right in the swing of promoting: York Coaches for A Future That Works, we have the Facebook event, online ticket booking and also tickets are available from Fairer World, 84, Gillygate…

…and thousands of fliers. Please let us know if you want fliers to post down your street or give to work colleagues/friends. Email yorkrighttowork@gmail.com or phone 07980 316 414 (we can deliver in the city). Printable PDF available here.

In other news. Things are shaping up for more strikes later in the year. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) have voted in favour of strike action, and the UK’s larges union ‘Unite’ are warning of more co-ordinated strikes.

And the York Press have reported more people receiving food parcels in York, with the Salvation Army directly blaming the Government’s austerity measures.

York Stop the Cuts update!

YSTC supported York Welfare Campaign’s protest against Workfare outside Greggs and Housing Crisis Campaign which saw a packed out Friends Meeting House full of local people (including groups such as Tree of Mums). Discussions covered the growing unaffordability (and often unsuitability) of the private rented sector, lack of social housing, issues around supported housing and the likely devastating impacts of Welfare Reform. Members of York Stop the Cuts have recently supported Civil Enforcement Officers (traffic wardens) strike. And the actions go on..

There has been a lot going on and there is a lot more to come. We’re building for Autumn but we remain active; whilst the politicians are resting over summer, we are preparing and we are acting. The recent fiasco with Barclays is even more proof (as if you needed any) that this system isn’t working. We want an alternative.

We have witnessed massive affronts on all sides, welfare, our health service, education, pensions, our facilities, and so on. 80% of the cuts are yet to come.

We can’t afford not to keep fighting!

TUC have organised a march on 20 October A future that works. Watch this space for more details about the day, and how to get there if you’re going from York.

Next meeting is Tuesday 31 July 7.30pm or come talk to us at one of our stalls in Acomb or in town on Saturdays!

Things are getting going…

On the 10th of May we are set to see a national strike from Health workers in the Unite union and PCS (public sector workers). With the NUT (teachers) and UCU (colleges and universities) possibly also joining, which would make up to half a million people on strike nationally.

These unions who are refusing the Government’s pension deal are hoping that the strike will force the government to back down. As the deal currently stands, most, including those on the lowest incomes, are set to pay more into their pensions and get a worse pension at the end of it. For more detail see the excellent Fair pensions for all pamphlet.

But people are angry at way more than just pension cuts. The public sector, health and education are facing cuts across-the-board, with many jobs under threat. The reduced service quality due to closures and staff losses is also demoralising for those who stay, and the rest of us who do not have such large salaries not to use public services are forced to make do with less.

If you are not in a union going out on strike on the 10th May, then there is still plenty you can do to get involved: with a lunchtime march and rally and our picket support centre in the morning. Checkout our events page for more details.

York Has a Housing Crisis

Due to York’s higher than average rent prices, many people are being forced to move away from York. And the situation is made worse by the government’s changes to housing benefit.

York Welfare Campaign are hosting “A Place to Live: York Housing Crisis debate”

Read more about it on York Welfare Campaign’s website. Also, please do invite your friends to the Facebook event.

The York Press have also run a couple of recent articles on the issue: Hundreds to lose housing benefit payments and Big variation in way benefit cuts will hit.

Here to Live, Here to Stay: Carnival against the Cuts

For Saturday 26th May, York Welfare Campaign and York Stop the Cuts are planing a fun, family focused event on Parliament St as part of UK Uncut’s Great British Street Party, more information coming soon. If you would like to get involved please get in contact, see our Contact Us page, or come along to one of our organising meetings.

Mark Serwotka’s talk at our Monday 26th meeting

Thank you to everyone who came to our public meeting on Monday. For those of you who couldn’t make it, we have reproduced Mark Serwotka’s (General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, PCS) talk in full below. We hope you will find it a useful resource.

Introduction

Can I congratulate the organisers of the meeting. What I thought I would do is not just talk about pensions, but to actually talk about austerity and cuts in general and what it is that we need to consider doing about it and in so doing just give I think an analysis of where we are pretty clear of what we require. I’m happy to say I am here speaking on behalf of my union, I’m proud to do so and my union I’m proud to say has been very much at the forefront of criticising not just this government but the government before it; the Labour government that actually started many of these attacks and paved the way for many of the things that the coalition is doing and we pride ourselves on saying that we’re here to stand up for working people and PCS members and if that means that we offend politicians, whether in the Labour Party, Tories or LibDems then so be it, we think we have to say what needs saying and organise from there.

Continue reading “Mark Serwotka’s talk at our Monday 26th meeting”

Monday 26th March: Mark Serwotka + Clare Solomon

Speakers and Discussion from 7pm, Monday 26th March at Friargate Friend’s Meeting House (map, Facebook event).

The anti-cuts movement stands on a potential turning point. On the one hand, the NHS privatisation bill has passed and many Unions have surrendered to pensions attacks. On the other, Osborne has released a budget that is being met with fury from public and media alike. People are beginning to realise that permanent austerity is a real threat.

Our key speakers for the night have both played pivotal national roles in the struggle against pensions cuts and tuition fee increases.

Mark Serwotka has been a key driver behind the ground breaking collective strike action in June and November last year. He’s a regular contributor to the BBC’s Question Time and Newsnight programs and a passionate and highly informed speaker.

Clare Solomon was President of the University of London Union during the 2010 student protests and has just returned from Greece, where she’s been learning about the struggle against austerity from local activists.

Plus local NUT, York College and other speakers, and chaired by York Unison’s Ben Drake.