Parliament has closed for the summer. But before grabbing their buckets and spades and heading to the beach, the government used the last day of parliament to introduce yet more cuts.
The nation’s schools are in crisis. Cuts to education budgets have meant schools having to cut teaching staff and mental health support, and having to hold lessons in leaking classrooms. Meanwhile, in some schools, teachers are using their own money or writing begging letters to parents for everyday teaching items like stationery.
A new funding formula for schools – though not the money schools desperately need – was touted as promising to relieve the burden.
But on the last day of parliament, schools minister Nick Gibb announced that the rollout of the new funding formula would be delayed for a year to “provide stability”. Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner hit back at the announcement:
This delay to the Tories’ flagship school funding policy, which they tried to slip out unnoticed on the Commons’ last sitting day, is just the latest sign of a Government in chaos. The Chancellor and the Education Secretary both promised that their formula was a ‘guarantee’ that no school would face cash cuts.
But that guarantee has proven as worthless as the rest of their promises.
Meanwhile, people are warning that the government’s unfunded public-sector pay rise will lead to even more education cuts:
Hi @DamianHinds, your payrise is phoney. It will mean a real terms pay cut for most teachers. Your refusal to fund it, will plunge school budgets into further crisis. Our claim remains 5% for all, and fully funded. #STRB #Buildtheballot #WORTH5PERCENT #publicsectorpay pic.twitter.com/KvjTjr2uKE
— NEU Grassroots (@neugrassroots) July 25, 2018
The government also used the last day of parliament for a further assault on the beleaguered criminal justice system. To add to the crisis caused by legal-aid cuts, the government announced that seven courts are to close across England.
But while the government claimed it was because these courts aren’t providing value for money, the decision was slammed by The Law Society:
"We do not agree with the seven court closures while HMCTS are still deciding on the future estates models" says @LawSocPresident Christina Blacklaws, calling on the government to pause court closures until a long-term estates strategy is in place https://t.co/CKf7GDbwI8
— The Law Society (@TheLawSociety) July 25, 2018
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon also criticised the closures:
The Tories' consultation was just a smokescreen for more court closures
Instead of sneaking out court closures on the last day of parliament, the Gov't should halt all planned court closures until its courts reforms are properly debated in parliamenthttps://t.co/a3R9vdXsgX
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) July 24, 2018
Criticism also came from other legal professionals:
Comment of magistrate endorsing closure of Wandsworth County Court was particularly galling.
— Tessa Buchanan (@Tessa__Buchanan) July 24, 2018
Great article about the effect of closure of Buxton Magistrates' Court – similar effect when both Newark court and police station closed – detainees taken 20 miles to Mansfield, those charged 20 miles the other way to Nottingham. https://t.co/tjEfLV1EAO
— VHS Fletchers (@VHSFletchers) July 25, 2018
Just in case screwing over education and justice wasn’t enough, the government also announced cuts to two RAF bases. RAF Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire and RAF Scampton, in Lincolnshire, will be sold by 2022.
The closure of Scampton was particularly criticised as it’s the home to the Red Arrows:
Happy 100th Birthday RAF. As a gift, we’re closing the country’s most historic airbase. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the Government has confirmed the closure of RAF Scampton on the last day of Parliament, meaning no time for debate.
— Sean Dunderdale (@seandunderdale) July 24, 2018
Very sad to hear confirmation of closure of RAF Linton-on-Ouse. Proud history, not least in WWII. Thoughts with all those who have been stationed there, and particularly the 300 families linked to the base today. Will work with @HambletonDC to make the best of opportunities ahead
— Kevin Hollinrake (@kevinhollinrake) July 24, 2018
These cuts show austerity is alive and kicking in Tory Britain. Theresa May and her government should be hanging their heads in shame for trying to sneak them out on the last day of parliament. But they’re probably just off enjoying their holidays without a second thought for the people who have to live with the consequences of their actions.
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Featured image via Flickr/Arno Mikkor