£9m of cuts proposed for Portsmouth

The city council’s administration has published proposals for budget cuts before the next council meeting on 13 December.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader said:
“The Lib Dems and now Tories have been cutting local services that we all rely on for too long. Now another £9m. How much more can we take? I am more concerned than ever.
We all agree management costs can come down, sharing services will help and there are one or two ideas for generating much needed income. However, much more must be done. We need to see vital frontline services guaranteed and services for the most vulnerable people protected. 
We also need to ensure Portsmouth gets a better deal from central government. A better government grant for local services. Better help for our city to attract new business investment and better projects to create new employment opportunities.  I also want to see our city invest in skills to help local people get better jobs.
The Tories are just making things harder.  In the new chancellor’s first autumn statement, not £1 extra was assigned to help older people relying on the NHS and social care.
Locally there is no attempt to get Portsmouth a better deal for our city. Instead plans will cut our social care services by nearly £2m.
Whilst evidence suggests Portsmouth has some of the highest levels of poverty and health inequalities in the country, these plans cut public health services by over half a million.
I expect better than this. And the people of Portsmouth deserve better than this”.
Budget plans for discussion by councillors in December are available here

Future of social care at risk

Yesterday’s Autumn Statement failed to address the funding crisis councils, the NHS and voluntary sector face in providing social care. 
The Local Government Association has said that the government must take urgent action to properly fund social care if councils are to stand any chance of protecting the services which care for the elderly and vulnerable.
They also state that extra council tax raising powers will not bring in enough money to alleviate the pressure on social care and councils will not receive the vast majority of new funding in the Better Care Fund until the end of the decade.
Cllr Stephen Morgan says:
“Despite the largest deficit and longest waiting lists in the history of the NHS, there was not a single extra penny announced in the Autumn Statement to deal with the crisis in the NHS and social care. The Chancellor didn’t even mention social care in his speech once. 
Social care services supporting the elderly and vulnerable are now at breaking point”.
The autumn statement also made no mention of the NHS at all. 
The next few years are expected to be extremely challenging for councils with central government cuts.
“All councils are facing difficult decisions about the future of local services. The Government must allow local government to use extra business rate income to plug the growing funding gap as a result of reductions in the formula grant and give councils more time to plan their budgets”.
Estimates suggest local government faces an overall £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020. 

Fair transitional arrangements for women needed

Tonight local people invited councillors to support a motion presented to the Council to make fair transitional state pension arrangements for 1950s women. This was referred to the Scrutiny Management Panel for consideration and any referral back to Full Council.
Portsmouth’s Labour Group are in full support of this important local and national campaign and congratulated representatives of WASPI at tonight’s meeting for their impassioned speeches.
Cllr Stephen Morgan said:
“The last Labour government had some success at reducing pensioner poverty. However women and the lowest paid remain at high risk of falling into poverty in their retirement.
This injustice is being extended to 2.6m women born in the 1950s, who have been short-changed by the bringing forward of their state pension age.

I want the government of today to deal with this issue and ensure that women affected are given proper transitional payments”.
One WASPI campaigner thanked Cllr Morgan for his and the Group’s support by staying “Thank you so much for caring”.

It's time to care for our NHS

Thousands of hospital beds are set to be lost, pregnant women will face long trips to give birth and a string of accident and emergency units will be closed or downgraded as part of controversial plans for the NHS as a result of yet more reorganisation of the country’s health services. 
Proposals have been developed in locally agreed Sustainability and Transformation Plans.  These are currently being analysed by NHS campaigners and already show that health chefs are set to push through an unprecedented centralisation of hospital services across England.
This could mean reducing the number of A&E hospitals from 140 to less than 70 across England and cutting hospital beds – while hoping that care in the community will pick up the slack. The plans also include selling off land and assets that belong to the NHS.
Critics have argued that whilst the plans may include some good ideas, the overall programme is unrealistic about funding and includes untested assumptions.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader, has written to health decision-makers sharing concerns and asking questions about any proposals locally. 
Portsmouth’s health services are included in a Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sustainability and Transformation Plan which is due to be published next week. The document covers a range of health and care services spanning eight clinical commissioning groups and providing for an estimated population of two million people.
Cllr Morgan said:
“Under the Tories our NHS is underfunded and understaffed. We’re seeing the worst NHS deficits on record at £2.45 billion. Around 3.9 million people are now on the English waiting list to start treatment and 1.8 million people waited four or more hours in A&E last year – up over 400 per cent since 2010.
One in four patients have to wait a week or more to see or speak to a GP or nurse, or don’t get an appointment at all
Our country already has the second lowest number of hospital beds per head in Europe. We simply cannot afford to lose any more.
With recent changes in health services in our city we’re already seeing people needing to travel further to access the care they need. Labour created the NHS to care for us all, now it’s time to care for the NHS.
Portsmouth Labour will be talking with local people at different locations across the city next Saturday, 26 November on an NHS community action day.

Increase in violent crime needs urgent action

Last month the Office for National Statistics reported that, after a decade of decline, there have been real increases in levels of violent crime across the country occurring in our communities and imperiling victims.
This is nothing to do with changes in police recording practice that have also boosted this year’s figures for recorded crime.
In Portsmouth we have seen a significant increase in violent crime in the past year. Information released by the Safer Portsmouth Partnership – which brings together the police, probation, council and other local stakeholders to tackle crime and disorder in the city – has identified there has been a 49% increase in recorded violent crime overall. This compares with a national average rise of 27% in the last year, and is at the highest level since 2007/8.
Violent crime now also accounts for 45% of all recorded crime compared to 36% in 2007/8.
Concerned by these increases and the impact recent incidents is having on perceptions of safety in communities across our city, Portsmouth Labour has raised this important issue in the Council Chamber with decision-makers.
Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth Labour Leader asked the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Community Safety at Full Council on 15 November. He sought assurance that the administration was doing everything it could to tackle the rise in crime and address the concerns of local communities.
Cllr Morgan said:
“Urgent action is needed to tackle the significant increase in violent and overall crime in Portsmouth and build confidence in our communities that our neighbourhoods are safe. Portsmouth people deserve better.
 I welcome news that the Safer Portsmouth Partnership is prioritising serious and violent crime in our great city in their strategies.
 I am also meeting the local police’s Chief Superintendent Schofield with other Group Leaders next week to hear how the police are keeping on top of this issue and how we can work together to address concerns.
Public safety in Portsmouth must always remain paramount”.
Portsmouth Labour believes real increases in crime ought to be met by real increases in police resource to cope with them and not with more cuts.

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