There are 30% cuts to the budget for the environment. So forget any serious move to a more sustainable approach. There are to be 30% cuts to spending on transport. So forget local bus services or any revenue for the northern powerhouse. And then there are the cuts to local government.
Spending on that will go down by 8% every year for the next four years. This 30% cut comes on the back of reductions of funding that the Conservative dominated Local Government Association says were 40% over the last five years. Obviously reductions on this scale can't just come from doing things a bit more efficiently and cutting down on back office staff. It can only be achieved by reducing the service.
The local authorities don't have many options left. They could cut back on bin collections and risk public health and fly tipping problems. Then again they have already done a lot of that. They can reduce expenditure on planning officers and let developers get away with building on places that local people think are totally unsuitable. That has already happened to a dangerous degree. Or they can cut down on their single most expensive cost. The care budget.
What that means in practice is that they may not be able to afford to take children at risk into care and when they do those children will be looked after in worse conditions. I am a great believer in leaving every child who you possibly can to be brought up by their parents. I am not a believer in leaving children of drug addicts and violent drunken men at risk because the council hasn't been able to send a social worker round and when one finally did appear they were only able to stay a few minutes and tick a few boxes to prove they were efficient. Nor am I a great believer in the manager of that care worker worrying that all the council's places are full and there isn't enough money to look after another child.
At the other end of the age spectrum what cuts to local government care budgets mean are that elderly and vulnerable people find it a lot harder to get care. Already it is desperately difficult to get council finance to help out someone who can't look after themselves properly. The whole process is about to get a lot tougher. If you happen to have an elderly relative who lives some distance from you, as increasing number of people do, then the cost is going to fall entirely on the family. If you are well off this is a bit of an inconvenience. Your taxes stay low and your rates don't go up but you end up shelling out a lot more money looking after the vulnerable members of your family and spending a lot of time sorting it out. Fair enough you might think. Put the responsibility on the family. But tens of thousands of care homes are disappearing because of local authority cuts so that even if you are moderately well off you might not find it easy to locate a suitable place. When you do the cost is likely to go well beyond what you thought you could afford.
If you happen to be poor then the cost of care is simply impossible to fund. Your elderly relative just gets left alone for weeks at a time with no prospect of persuading the council to help out until the situation is truly drastic. No wonder costs for the NHS are going up. Hospital is sometimes the only place an elderly person can get fed, get warm and get clean.
There are also a huge range of other council care services where cuts are equally, if not more damaging. Ranging from help for those with mental health difficulties through to support for recovering drug and alcohol addicts. When an individual stops taking their schizophrenia medicine someone needs to be monitoring this and know about it and act very quickly. Otherwise there are risks to the public and to the individual. The chances of this happening with a skeleton service get thinner by the day. When a drug addict makes a decision that they want to get clean there is a very short window of opportunity to work with them to turn that into a reality. The waiting list for treatment in most areas is now many months. By the time the treatment is sourced the willpower may have gone. The damage this does to the individual is huge. The impact on victims of crime is just as bad as drug abuse fuels a high proportion of all crimes.
This is the kind of society that the cuts are going to create for us. If you are fit and healthy and a high earner life could be fine. Provided that you don't run into someone who hasn't taken their medication or needs the money for their next fix. If you are remotely weak and vulnerable then don't expect anyone to look after you.
But don't worry. The Chancellor has recently informed us about exactly why it is so important that all these cuts go through. On November 9th he put out a tweet saying:
"Economic security means we can invest in national security. We'll substantially increase number people across all three intelligence agencies."
So there we have the priorities in a nutshell. Pass the job of implementing horrible front line cuts onto local authorities. Children in care can be written off. Isolated elderly people can be ignored. People with mental illnesses can be left to fend for themselves. But don't worry. The essentials will be maintained. Osborne will spend even more money on checking that you don't step out of line.
If this is what the priorities in the first round of cuts looks like then I am not looking forward to seeing what is in the rest of the package.