Why do public services exist? We have services like the Police, Fire Service and the Army to keep us safe. Services such as the NHS and Social Security give us the opportunity to survive when we fall on tough times. While, Education and Transport help us get on with our lives. Public services exist to make all our lives better.
When I say ‘all’ of us, I mean ‘all’. Wealthier members of the community may choose to ‘go private’ in accessing healthcare or education at times but at the very least they still rely upon the state for defence and law and order. Even the services they opt out of still benefit them, employees need education and training to perform well and a healthier community reduces the risk you will fall ill due to contact with someone who is sick. It’s a social contract: we pay taxes for our communal services, building a better society for all of us to live in.
Unfortunately, that contract is being broken bit by bit. Passing through other parts of West Sussex you see the decline in services physically in the overgrown verges, but it’s the hospitals and schools being taken to breaking point which is the real legacy of a Government which promised to cut the deficit but cut taxes instead, redistributing money from your services to the well-off.
Those deliberately trying to reduce the scope of public services claim there’s no alternative, but they would say that wouldn’t they? Funding services doesn’t involve rolling the clock back to the 1970s, in terms of running a balanced budget with well-financed public services you only need look back a little over a decade.
The real deficit started with the crash, as tax revenues dropped and the usual rise in expenditure associated with a recession grew. Had it not been for the Tories’ fire sale of public assets and tax cuts we could have resolved the deficit without leaving our services on the brink. Labour’s costed manifesto shows there is a way out of this mess and it’s time the country gave it a shot.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council