As many councils in the South West agree reduced budgets this week and Green Party campaigners join anti-cuts demonstrations across the region, a new report confirms that the cuts have hit the most vulnerable the hardest.
Counting the Cuts, a report by the Centre for Welfare Reform,  is based on the government’s own statistics and finds that the disabled, those on low incomes and those needing help form social services are those who are being particularly hard hit by the cuts. It says the cuts are, ‘justified by the use of rhetoric and stigma which causes further prejudice and harm.’
With local government and benefits bearing more than 50% of all cuts, Green Party campaigners have been demonstrating in Bristol, Bath and Exeter, amongst other places, as councils agree budgets that will see massive cuts to funding of services supporting some of the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Anti cuts demonstrators have highlighted damaging cuts to children’s centres in Bath and North East Somerset and to Youth Services in Devon. Cllr Daniella Radice, leader of the Green group in Bristol said:
"Austerity economics is hurting the poorest in Bristol. Vulnerable people will be hurt by these unnecessary cuts, imposed on Bristol by the Coalition government. But what we are seeing is only the beginning. Both George Osborne and Ed Balls have committed to continue local cut backs and reduce central government funding to Councils."
The Green Party wants to see a radical change to the way local government is financed. With approximately 80% of local government finance coming from central government, Greens argue for power to be decentralised so more finance is under local control, as is the case in almost every other European country. Dr Molly Scott Cato, Green Party finance speaker and lead South West European candidate, said:
"Austerity is political. It makes no moral or economic sense. The Green Party would end this cruelty by establishing measures such as a national living wage, implementing a citizen’s income, introducing a land value tax and encouraging more local currencies such as the Bristol pound and Totnes pound. By revising tax banding to make sure that those who can pay pay more, and those who can't pay pay less , and by introducing measures such as a Robin Hood Tax , we could bring an end to austerity and enable local government to fund services for the common good, ensuring a decent quality of life for everyone."
Counting the Cuts is released ahead of a key debate in the House of Commons next week forced on the Government by the WOW Petition, signed by over 100,000 people and strongly supported by the Green Party. The petition calls on the Government to calculate the cumulative impact of its policies on disabled people.
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:
"The Coalition's utterly heartless austerity agenda is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. The welfare state is under sustained attack and local services are being starved of vital funding. So much for those with the broadest shoulders bearing the greatest load. If the Government doesn’t really believe its policies are targeting the most vulnerable, it should be willing to carry out an impact assessment."
 Further details on Green Party tax and Citizens’ Income policies: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec#Direct
 For further details about the Green Party support for a Robin Hood Tax (Financial Transaction Tax) and campaign to encourage Councils to pass a motion of support for such a tax see ‘Set Robin Hood in motion say South West Greens!’ http://bit.ly/1dHjkey