latest hare-brained Tory general election plan

  • Post last modified:May 28, 2024
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Home secretary James Cleverly has expanded on the Conservative Party’s general election national service proposals. He said the Tories would introduce community service for 18-year-olds who aren’t doing national service.

But the community work Cleverly said they could be doing includes public sector jobs the Tories decimated with austerity. Apparently, we should have unpaid 18-year-olds working as an “on call firefighter” or “special constable”:

Rather than simply funding our public services properly, the Tories are attempting to make young people work in them for free.

Community service thanks to austerity Britain

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

More than a decade of Tory cuts has left the fire service overwhelmed, underfunded and badly managed… We have lost 1 in 5 firefighter jobs since 2010, and a large number of stations and fire engines. Response times are now at record highs.

As well as firefighters, Cleverly said 18-year-olds could volunteer in “flood defence work”. But this is another area the Tories have cut in the name of austerity, despite climate change bringing higher risk of flooding in the UK.

Against a backdrop of budget cuts and fewer Environment Agency staff, the Tories abandoned 40% of the houses that it planned to provide with better flood defences by 2027.

The approach makes no sense, given repairing the damage after flooding is a lot more expensive. That’s clear from the Return on Investment (RoI) on flood defence spending.

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

Labour: more of the same at the general election

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

The maintenance or extension of cuts in the current economic climate will only serve to deepen the poverty and hardship many are already facing.

We believe it is the duty of an opposition to, where necessary, present an alternative vision for the future and when it comes to economics.

Establishment managers in Tory and Labour are both lying that there’s no money left.

On top of that, it looks like the Tories want to make up for some of their austerity cuts by making 18-year-olds work for free. And that’s in some of the most important jobs in the country. We deserve better.

Featured image via BBC i player

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