Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Coalition attack on Victorian values

UNISON's response to the Government's attempt to strip local authorities of various statutory duties is timely and appropriate (http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=2277).



This Government isn't content with pushing back to the 1980s, nor even the 1930s - it seeks to reverse the social reforms of the Victorian era!



The pattern of nineteenth century social reform was of campaigners eventually achieiving a permissive reform, creating a statutory power, and then - when that was not enough - securing a mandatory duty on public authorities to act to remedy a social problem.



The creation of these statutory duties, in areas ranging from public health to primary education, built the foundations of urban civilisation in the first industrial (and urban) nation on Earth. These were the foundations on which the twentieth century Welfare State was built.



But now, the twenty-first century Coalition is threatening to unravel what they describe as "red tape" but which is better seen as sellotape covering the cracks in our society caused by its being driven by greed and wealth. The Government see duties as "burdens" on local authorities and - having allowed several weeks for comments on duties developed over decades of social progress - have now withdrawn to consider how best to neutralise the role of the local state in protecting the interests of the citizen (http://www.communities.gov.uk/localgovernment/decentralisation/tacklingburdens/reviewstatutoryduties/)



UNISON's response to the Government's consultation rightly highlights the potentially devastating social consequences of removing statutory duties from local authorities.



We may now need to prepare for a line by line, duty by duty, defence of local government from a Government committed to its destruction.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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