How the CSR broke coalition pledges on crime, transport, terrorism and energy

Apart from the poorest being hit hardest as a percentage of income and the weak British economy being severely strained, it is equally appalling how many pledges made by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have been simply brushed under the carpet throughout the months - and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) laid them bare.

Apart from the poorest being hit hardest as a percentage of income and the weak British economy being severely strained, it is equally appalling how many pledges made by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have been simply brushed under the carpet throughout the months – and the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) laid them bare.

Crime and Justice:

Lib Dem manifesto: “Liberal Democrats will put thousands more police on the beat and make them work effectively to cut crime…3,000 more police on the beat, affordable because we are cutting other spending.”

The announced budget cuts to the Ministry of Justice amount to a fall of £9.5 billion to £7bn over the next four years. The Lib Dem pledge to pay for an additional 3,000 police officers on the streets therefore is impossible in light of the cuts to police spending of 20 per cent.

Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Dennis O’Connor, said before the CSR that cuts greater than 12 per cent would affect front line services. What remains inconclusive is whether the cuts include police funding from local authorities via rates and council tax precepts or simply just the Home Office.

If local authorities do manage to raise police precepts in line with forecasts made by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the overall spending cuts would fall by 6 per cent to 14 per cent. Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Peter Fahy, argued that the proposed cuts will affect front-line policing, leaving “no question” on there being fewer police officers after four years.

Most staffing cuts to Britain’s prisons will hit the head office, middle management grades and regional managers instead of core prison work. The combination of the cuts, with the postponement of a 1,500-capacity private prison, suggests the coalition is not expecting a large increase in the prison population this parliament. The Ministry of Justice anticipates a stabilisation of the prison population due to reforms in sentencing amounting to a 3,000 drop in prison numbers by 2015.

Measures to achieve this include halving sentences for criminals who confess their guilt and offences at the police station and supporting more drug addicts and mentally ill people through treatment. In addition, the MoJ also wishes to actually pay foreign national prisoners to leave the country and carry out quicker risk assessments of criminals in order to release them sooner if given indeterminate sentences for the sake of public protection.

Transport:

Lib Dem manifesto: “Cut rail fares, changing the rules in contracts with Train Operating Companies so that regulated fares fall behind inflation by 1 per cent each year, meaning a real-terms cut…We will invest in public transport and cut rail fares.”

Coalition agreement: “We are committed to fair pricing for rail travel.”

In the CSR, the Treasury announced an investment of £30bn over the next four years, which includes £14bn on new rail maintenance projects. Contrary to the Lib Dem’s pledge, rail fares will rise by lifting the cap on regulated fares to Retail Price Index +1 per cent in 2011 and RPI +3 per cent from 2012 onwards. Transport secretary Philip Hammond, admitted this would mean a total increase in fares of 10 per cent in real terms. This is necessary, according to Osborne, in order to cover the costs for new rolling stock and improved services for passengers.

Terrorism:

Conservative Manifesto: “Terrorism remains a major threat to our country…”

National Security Strategy: Priority Risks: “Tier One: The National Security Council considered the following groups of risks to be those of highest priority for UK national security looking ahead, taking account of both likelihood and impact.

“International terrorism affecting the UK or its interests, including a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack by terrorists; and/or a significant increase in the levels of terrorism relating to Northern Ireland.”

Despite the highest priority attached to terrorism, the Home Office confirmed reports that its counter-terrorism policing will be hit by a 10 per cent cut in real terms over four years. Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent ,stated: “This is a smaller cut than the Home Office and police overall – but still considerable.” If terrorism is indeed a Tier One security risk, such a cut will inevitably have a negative impact on counter-terrorism despite the home secretary denying the fact.

DEFRA and Energy:

Conservative Manifesto: “We believe that it is our responsibility to create a clean and healthy environment to pass on to our children. That is why we have put green issues back at the heart of our politics and that is why they will be at the heart of our government.”

Despite the setting up of a green investment bank worth £1bn drawn from funding, the Department for Energy and Climate Change will decrease by an average of 5 per cent a year whilst the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will have to save a massive average of 8 per cent a year. Approximating to a third of the DEFRA budget, rural areas may suffer disproportionately due to their heavy reliance on governmental assistance. A reliance that has been further cut by a £66 million reduction in governmental spending towards farmers who meet certain environmental criteria.

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