In April 2021, the SNP-led Glasgow City Council announced their budget for 2021-2022. True to form, the Budget consists of cuts to vital services and resources provided to the people of Glasgow, to the tune of £8.9million. This constitutes another year of austerity which has characterised the SNP’s leadership of Glasgow City Council.
The budget savings proposed by Glasgow City Council will be achieved through, among others, cuts to the city’s Glasgow Guarantee employment programme, through discontinuing the provision of an ‘Affordable Warmth’ payment to those in the city aged over 80 years, many of whom are vulnerable and will rely on this for survival during the cold winter months, and through the closure of 69 sports and leisure facilities run by Glasgow Life, with the resulting job losses being predicted to affect female and part-time workers hardest.
What is clear is that this budget does not work for the people of Glasgow, at a time when the people of the city have already suffered great economic and social hardships throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. This budget also represents but one attempt by Glasgow’s SNP administration to impose austerity throughout the city. Glasgow City Council have also signalled their intention to close various libraries and leisure facilities across Glasgow (disproportionately in low-income, deprived areas), a decision which has been met with protests from various community groups opposed to the decision.
For the second year running, the Young Communist League’s Glasgow branch have taken the task of analysing the cuts proposed by Glasgow City Council, analysing the subsequent effects of these cuts on the people of Glasgow, and proposing our ‘Communist Alternative’ budget which will work in the interests of Glasgow’s working class.
With the social, economic and cultural effects of the Coronavirus pandemic still being felt throughout the city over one year on, the working people of Glasgow need a budget which prioritises their needs above that of corporations and landlords. The closure of various sports facilities, libraries and cultural facilities will serve only to worsen the mental and physical health issues facing many in the city’s most deprived areas. Vital public services continue to be cut to the bone by an SNP administration unwilling to take the steps needed to alleviate the rampant poverty and homelessness plaguing the city’s poorest and most vulnerable. Food bank use continues to skyrocket, whilst education and healthcare services remain underfunded and over-pressured with increasing use and decreasing budgets.
The YCL Glasgow branch’s alternative budget proposes the following changes to the budget put forward by Glasgow City Council:
- As well as reversing the closure of numerous Glasgow Life facilities throughout the city, free access should be provided to all Government and Council-owned sport, leisure and cultural facilities in Glasgow;
- Rent controls to be put in place on private sector renting, significant investment in Council housing, and increased enforcement against slum landlords;
- The cuts to the ‘Affordable Warmth’ payment should not only be stopped, but the payment extended to all those of retirement age in the city and a Council-led service to ensure adequate heating for all retired Glaswegians in winter;
- A city-wide statutory right to an apprenticeship or a two-year work placement for all school leavers up to the age of 25, with a real living wage;
- A reversal of the proposed cuts to Early Years care, and the creation of an Early Years system free and accessible to the people of Glasgow;
- A full-time dedicated mental health counsellor in every secondary school to combat rising mental health and suicide rates among the city’s youth;
- Significant investment in the fight to tackle climate change – an end to single-use plastic, solar panels on all Council buildings and homes, mass planting of trees and funding for ‘green’ apprenticeships; and
- Investments in city-wide public transport network cards for those aged under 30, with capped affordable prices.
The Young Communist League Glasgow branch utterly rejects the current budget proposals put forth, which makes no efforts to improve the lives of the city’s working class. In proposing this alternative budget, we hope to put forward our vision for a budget which would provide hope and inspiration, as well as meaningful and tangible improvements to the lives of the people of Glasgow.
Sean Mulgrew, is a member of Glasgow’s YCL branch