After the General Election, there was talk that the Tories were going to abandon austerity, writes Ipswich Borough Council Leader, David Ellesmere.
They realised that people were fed up with the endless cuts and that this was a large part of the reason why they did so badly.
So far it looks like this was only just talk. For all her warm words, Theresa May has changed nothing. Public sector pay is still capped. Public services are still facing large cuts. Austerity looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.
Why does this matter?
One example shows the corrosive effect austerity is having on life in Britain.
Since 2010 the Tories have made huge cuts to police budgets. There are now 20,000 fewer police officers than when they took charge.
They tried to say that the number of police has no effect on crime and indeed crime did continue to fall for a while. They also tried to imply that “physical” crime – robbery, violence, sexual assault etc. – had essentially been sorted and cybercrime is where the problems were.
That’s no longer the case
The latest statistics show a large increase in reported crime. And it’s not cybercrime that is causing this but old-fashioned “physical” crime – the sort of crime that was supposed to be under control.
In Suffolk robberies have gone up by 21% in the last year and violence by 18%. There have been many stories in the Star about drug and gang-related crime.
How can anyone be surprised by this?
There are far fewer police officers out on the streets. Community Support Officers now stop work at 6pm.
The vital community intelligence links that take years to build up are slowing being dissolved.
Drug taking and dealing is happening in broad daylight because offenders realise that there is little or no chance of being caught.
Our police are doing a fantastic job trying to tackle drug and gang crime but there are just too few of them.
We need more police officers and we need them now.
The longer criminal behaviour is allowed to go unchecked, the more entrenched it will become and the harder – and more expensive – it will be to turn the tide.