As a charity working primarily with older people, ex-miners and their widows, many of whom have long-term health problems stemming from their time in the coal mining industry, we are already seeing the effects of cuts on services.
During the course of this year, we expect to see many more older people who will be seeking our help as council services are reduced and rationed. One of our concerns is that older people will suffer disproportionately from cuts as they are reliant on public transport, local authority care services and council-supported voluntary activity.
Some councils seem to be taking a political rather than principled views on what to cut and how. The groups that shout the loudest get the advantage while the elderly and vulnerable are ignored.
The Government’s budget cuts may be the real cause of the need to reduce services, but the choices made about what services are cut are a local decision. In some councils the protection of senior and middle management posts appears a higher priority than protecting services for the elderly, providing constant publicity about how good the council is becomes more important than actually providing services and keeping the subsided staff canteen is a more important aim than saving a day centre.
The years ahead will be difficult and many of the most vulnerable will suffer hardship. While charities like ourselves will do all we can to fill the gaps, there will be many who will be missed out.
The extent and depth of that hardship will, to some extent, depend on locally-made decisions and those who are concerned about how those decisions are made will now have some information on which to base their criticisms.
COAL INDUSTY SOCIAL WELFARE ORGANISATION