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Thursday 26 November 2015

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'Let's start People's QE now and resist Osborne's austerity', says ex-Labour MP

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has responded to the Comprehensive Public Spending Review by calling on Labour-controlled councils to come together and resist George Osborne's latest cuts to vital local public services.

Dave Nellist, a former Labour backbench colleague of Jeremy Corbyn who is now the chair of TUSC, said:

"If Osborne can be forced into a U-turn on his tax credit cuts by the House of Lords he can be made to retreat on his new draconian cuts to local council funding. But it will need a determined fight by Labour councillors".

TUSC, which stood over 600 candidates in the 2015 local elections, released today a report (see Councils Statistical Profiles) showing that just the 58 Labour-led councils with elections next May, hold over £4.5 billon in useable general reserves. Pooling these would mean that no Labour council would need to make cuts in order to agree a legally-compliant budget for the 2016-17 financial year.

Dave Nellist said: "These figures give a glimpse of the substantial resources of the 'local state' that are under the control of the Labour Party. And that's not just resources to resist Osborne's cuts.

"The Labour-led councils that we have prepared our report on, also have sufficient capital reserves, for example, to legally undertake 'prudential borrowing' ('unsupported' borrowing in that it is not matched by government grants) to build 100,000 council homes in the next financial year. And there are, in fact, over one hundred Labour-led councils across the country who could take such a stand.

"Building council homes and saving local public services could be a way to put Jeremy Corbyn's idea of 'People's QE' into action, if Labour councillors were prepared to follow their leader's anti-austerity position".

There will be around 2,400 councillors elected in English councils next May. In the 58 Labour-led local authorities with elections there were 135 councillors who declared their support for Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign. TUSC is writing to all Labour candidates to see if they are now prepared to shift their position after his victory and take a stand against austerity (see at http://www.tusc.org.uk/17116/12-09-2015/model-letter-to-labour-councillors).

Dave Nellist concludes:

"Using councils' reserves and borrowing powers could buy time and save vital local services now. In other words, a councillors' revolt could stop the Tory cuts.

"But only if it is the first step in a national campaign of defiance to force central government to provide the funding needed".