Austerity cuts hitting us all

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The phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ is one of those gems of the English language which is passed down from each generation to the next.

We have long accepted that sometimes you have to dig deep into your pockets if you want real value for money, although, as far as the British taxpayer is concerned, this age-old maxim has recently been stretched to the limits of all credibility.

For a nation used to its public services being the envy of the rest of the world, we are currently enduring something of a reality check. It has been a bad week or so for the public sector after it was revealed that police budgets have shrunk an incredible 22 per cent in just five years with 32,000 staff leaving the 43 forces in England and Wales. This coincided with a report from the police watchdog that some forces are “downgrading” 999 calls in a bid to meet targets, which, it is argued, is putting some victims of crime at risk.

This came after the rumpus caused by a senior chief constable who repeated his view that some paedophiles, the ones deemed not to be a ‘physical’ risk to children, should not be prosecuted.

Simon Bailey countered arguments he was going soft on sex offenders by arguing that in this country we launch more prosecutions against such offenders than anywhere else. The question many have asked is whether he would be making such a suggestion if there wasn’t quite so much pressure on budgets.

At the same time the chief inspector of hospitals described the NHS as “standing on a burning platform”. The intentionally stark language used by the inspector still made everybody sit up and take notice.

Then we have the funding crisis which is hampering schools and local education authorities across the country. Some headteachers are now writing to parents to ask them to contribute to covering their coffers.

It has taken a long time in coming but seven years of austerity cuts are now hitting us all, which is especially hard to take when our council tax bills will increase again next month. While none of us object to paying for good services, it does feel like we are being short-changed.