While everyone’s distracted by Brexit, Tory austerity continues to cripple public services [OPINION]

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Theresa May’s Brexit speech in Florence and the Labour Party conference in Brighton have dominated the news in recent days. Yet even while the Tories squabble and Labour prepares, reminders of the choice faced by British people can still be found. Seven years of ideological austerity have ground public services into the dust.

Schools

According to government figures, over 9,400 schools were in financial deficit in 2015-16. This is more than a third of all schools in the country. General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, stated the present government should “recognise that the overall level of education funding is totally inadequate”.

The escalating effects of education cuts have meant many schools are now asking parents to contribute towards running costs. A survey published in April revealed one in six state schools had to go cap-in-hand to parents like this.

Hospitals

The crisis in NHS funding has been well documented over the last seven years of Tory rule. This could see a perfect storm of negative outcomes. Several sources are predicting an A&E crisis this winter, which could see up to 10,000 people a day waiting more than four hours for treatment. Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, has accused Theresa May of “burying her head in the sand”.

He states that the NHS needs a £500m winter bailout to ensure a reliable service.

This news comes as a new raft of cuts threatens regional operations. Vital services such as cancer diagnostics and treatments for children with complex needs have been earmarked for cost-cutting to satisfy new funding reductions.

Ideology, not necessity

Alongside the faltering NHS and schools, the police, prison services, and benefits system have all come under sustained attack since 2010. At the time the nation was sold a lie. We were told that this was all essential: that we were “all in this together.”

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But as has now been made clear, austerity was never necessary. It was a choice. And the British people may soon have their own to make.

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