Other people’s money
There’s a lazy phrase that’s doing the rounds at the minute that seems particularly favoured among Tories that “the left likes spending other people’s money”, specifically in the context of the ever increasing machismo of parties trying to out-cut each other. The diametric for the right could be that they “like closing down other people’s services”.
However, I try to avoid simplistic left/right labels, especially when referring to the Tory and Labour parties as they’re too close together in ideology terms for any meaningful difference. In these current tough times for services, the harsh reality is down to competition between services for the crumbs from the taxpayers’ table.
One service that has gone under the axe is South Tyneside Council on Disabilities, or STCOD for short. STCOD is the longest established advisory service for disabled people in South Tyneside, and produces a large print periodical for its clients. It’s going to have to hunt elsewhere for funding, and if (as likely) it can’t, they’ll be closing their doors soon.
South Tyneside Council conducted a review on voluntary advice services, like Welfare Rights, CAB etc, and decided that there was an overlap and one had to go. The bullseye rested on STCOD. Whilst there is an overlap, it’s not just in the narrowly defined terms of the council. The differing services complement each other, and from time to time rely on each others’ specialist knowledge, expertise and guidance.
It’s sad to see that the disabled community has been targeted in such a way. While budgets seem to exist to pay for “Vote Joe!” flags, council jollies at the leisure centre and funding for right-on job roles like black and minority ethnic business advisors, it seems real front line services are the ones that are facing the chop.
With tightening government purse strings, it’s true that we need to look at budgets. The loss of STCOD may mean that some people might be left feeling abandoned and without a voice. That may be a price that’s too high.