Westminster austerity agenda costs Wales 28,000 jobs

A new report has claimed that 28,100 local authority jobs have been lost in Wales since 2010 as a result of severe spending cuts driven by the UK Westminster government.

UNISON Cymru Wales’ Audit of Austerity report says that job losses on this level is the equivalent to losing the seven largest private sector employers in Wales, which would be viewed as catastrophic and provoke demands of immediate government intervention and investment.

However, in contrast, the loss of 28,100 jobs in local councils over the last eight years has not generated the same headlines or pressure on the UK government or in Cardiff Bay, despite local government spending £3.5 billion and employing over 10 per cent of the Welsh workforce.

UNISON Cymru Wales’ also points out that more than 500 jobs have gone in 19 of the 22 councils in Wales, more than 1,000 jobs have gone in 15 councils and that more than 2,000 jobs have gone in six councils, all alongside councils facing multi-million pound budget gaps between now and 2022.

Bethan Thomas, UNISON Cymru Wales head of local government, said: “If 28,000 private sector jobs were threatened, governments would drop everything to ask the business ‘how can we help?’ There would be promises of investment and a special taskforce. Yet, the Conservative government is completely indifferent to the same number of public service jobs losses it has caused in Wales by starving Welsh government and Welsh councils of money.

“Stripping funds available to councils means we have lost an army of librarians; youth workers; school support staff; leisure centre staff; carers; highways maintenance workers; social workers; environmental health inspectors and more. Council services are disappearing before our eyes. Public demand for services is still there. People expect the bins to be emptied, the roads to be swept, the vulnerable to be cared for and their children to be well educated. We are at crisis point. It is only thanks to the dedication of council workers going beyond the call that our local services are functioning at all. There is no more scope for cuts in public services.”

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