Today (25 January 2011) sees a Response column in The Guardian by Grant Shapps, Minister for Housing, in which he dismisses Patrick Butler’s prediction that ‘savage cuts will leave people sleeping rough on the streets‘.
Shapps proclaims that the Tory-led Government is protecting the homeless from council cuts.
Sure, he says, he won’t insist that councils match the Government’s resource allocation for the Supporting People housing programme, but match it they should.
‘If I thought [the new council funding settlement] would in any way increase homelessness and rough sleeping, I certainly would not support the moves we are making to ensure every taxpayer’s pound is spent more wisely‘, he says.
Presumably ensuring every taxpayer’s pound is spent more wisely is Tory-talk for Chancellor George Osborne’s slash and burn, as the Coalition works its way silently and inexorably towards de-governance.
Strict silo thinking is very evidently the Government’s preferred – no, politically essential – way of seeing the world.
Any other perceptual mode would incur the risk of joining up the dots, of acknowledging that inevitably deep and damaging cuts are underway, and that wherever or however they are applied, they are directly the result of Mr Osborne’s steely surgery.
If homeless people are protected, some other provision, perhaps early years or local parks, will have to suffer. Silos or no, something somewhere has to give when resources for services are slashed.
By steadfastly refusing to see the connectedness of public (and indeed private) services, the huge political advantage of ultimate denial of culpability is always there for Shapps, Osborne, Cameron and Clegg:
Not us folks, it’s those dodgy Councils who won’t accept proper responsibility for everything extra we’ve just landed on them. We’ve changed the rules, and that’s how it is.
OK, we also chopped the money whilst increasing the service provision load, but that’s their problem now, not ours….
So soon there will be merely a spectre where the Welfare State once proudly stood.
But it won’t be the Tories’ fault. Oh no, it’s the fault of local councils, who somehow at a stroke can’t make less money go many more ways at once.
Pretty nifty Tory positioning, or what?