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The Quietus' Readers On Their General Election Fears & Hopes
Luke Turner , June 6th, 2017 10:58

Ahead of next week's General Election, we asked you our readers to tell us your hopes and fears for the state of the country after seven years of Tory government. Here's the bleak assessment

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We at The Quietus do not believe that art can be separated from the society that creates it, something we've tried to reflect in our writing over the past nine years. These are tough times for artists, independent record labels and publications like ourselves, something we've not been shy in telling you in our regular appeals for funds. Yet we're just part of a wider community of individuals, all striving to make ends meet and get on with their lives against a climate of Brexit, austerity and a seeming social lurch to the right. Therefore we decided to open up The Quietus to allow you, our readers, to have your say on the state of Britain in the week before the General Election. The results, as you'll be able to see below, are far from cheering. From environmentalists to care workers, medical professionals, counsellors, drug support workers, teachers, a junior doctor and so on, the story is one of blasted morale, collapsing funding, and a system struggling to cope. The message from our readers is that you'd better not get ill, want to send a child to school, rely on benefits or social housing. Please do feel free to add your experiences in the comments below this article.

The junior doctor

Since the Conservative government came into power and throughout my medical training there has crescendo of dissatisfaction among healthcare professionals. As a student, I was partially shielded from this (and heavily distracted by perpetual pending exams). Once qualified, the neglect came into vicious relief. Anxiety dominates, with needs beyond my capacity to give optimal treatment to my patients. Saturated senior workloads consume the support there once was. Without doubt this spurred me on to read more, reflect more and work harder to mitigate the risks of being an employee in a neglected healthcare system, but that can't last forever. I can't keep this up.

The fight is not for higher wages. It is for appropriate staffing. It is for care once a patient leaves the hospital doors. Theresa May has invented "just about managing" families, but how could such a family risk their employment and meagre income to take extended time off work and perform a caring role?

My heart aches for the people I have cared who could have had so much more. Genuine care is far from impossible for a country so well-endowed as ours, especially compared to other healthcare systems in Europe and beyond. This election, for me and many of my colleagues, is an opportunity to reverse this downward trajectory filled with neglect, greed and profit.

The recurrent questions of 'where does the money come from?' fall on deaf ears for most health professionals. Maintaining an effective healthcare system makes sense from an economic perspective too. Keeping young people well and in work means they can contribute to economic output over their lifetime and keep up with the relentless extension of retirement age. Were the main aim of the Tories simply to keep the economy 'strong and stable' this would be a no-brainer. But there isn't enough profit in the NHS for private hands, so its neglected to the point of collapse. The NHS workforce know this and it is crippling morale.

Former High School teacher, now FE lecturer, Scotland

The FE sector in Scotland has really gone downhill in recent years, mainly due to the Scottish Government's merger programme in 2013. This was supposed to “increase efficiency and focus on high-quality learning”, but in reality the opposite has happened. Colleges have lost their identity, and too many people are employed in cushy, unnecessary, overpaid middle-management posts, while morale has evaporated amongst teaching staff. I have just completed my first full week's teaching in a month due to industrial action, as a harmonisation deal which was agreed a year ago between the government and Colleges Scotland was not honoured. This was a result of differences in pay and terms & conditions throughout the sector due to said merger programme.   After Brexit, a lack of European Social Funding (currently £20m for Scottish colleges) will have an adverse effect on teaching and learning. EU students will be reluctant to enrol for courses due to uncertainties. I have already heard from a few of my students from the EU, who are now changing their future plans as a result of Brexit. This can only get worse if May and her UKIPs-in-disguise get the majority that we all fear. If this happens, there will be less opportunities for the sort of people who really benefit from Further Education, ie the sort of people that the far-right don't give a fuck about. Fewer courses will be offered, leading to higher unemployment and all that goes with it. Further Education is a vital part of social mobility for so many reasons, yet it gets mainly ignored when it comes to manifestos and policies. Not good enough.

In Scotland it has sadly become an election about Independence (SNP) vs Unionists (Tories). You should see the Conservative leaflets that are currently doing the rounds. No mention of policies, it's all about independence. Labour are dead in the water up here, and I can't see this changing anytime soon. You can support Scottish Independence without supporting the SNP. Their policies on education over the last decade have been disastrous at all levels, from schools up to universities.

NHS Psychotherapist

I work as an long-term NHS psychodynamic psychotherapist with high risk, vulnerable patients. Many of my patients have severe and complex mental health problems and have been diagnosed with a range of disorders from complex PTSD, personality disorders, severe agoraphobia etc resulting from abuse, neglect and trauma.

The pressure on the NHS is profound. Due to under-staffing (thanks to budget restrictions), we have had to warn patients that there are some days we may need to close without warning (this is happening next week, for example). Recently we lost our admin team, so the psychotherapists have been doing this in-between seeing patients. This week we ran out of tissues for our therapy rooms and were told there was no budget for these essentials (as you might imagine, we really do need tissues and so we have found a solution). Patients are reporting that they are facing ongoing threats to their benefits and care (which as they are often complex and high-need is very scary for them). This can feel like rejection on a systemic level and therefore it can exacerbate issues.

After Brexit, patients have been reporting instances of racial abuse (I work in a predominantly Asian area, obviously there's been a rise in racially motivated hate crime) and some patients who have been here since childhood are being faced with the possibility of being sent back to their country of birth, even if they don't speak the language, have no family there or are in treatment and working here already.

My ongoing concern is that the Tories will continue to undermine, degrade and devalue the NHS and will continue to privatise it. If that happens, specialist teams like ours are under threat of being closed and these patients might not receive the care they so desperately need.

Union organiser, care sector

The 'Gagging' Bill (The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014) has meant that we can't actually organise properly during the purdah (suspension of parliament due to a general election). For example, I organise support staff in schools as part of my role. School funding is fucked. Proper fucked. A local grassroots campaign cropped up in my area led by teachers, school staff, and parents, to fight these cuts at a community level. This is the kind of thing you dream for as an organiser - something that could take a year's work on your own spontaneously happening in front of your eyes.

But the gagging bill prohibits me from actually having anything to do with it, because the community campaign answer is 'well, you have to vote Labour to reverse the cuts'. This makes it partisan. This means my Union branch could receive a sizeable (tens of £1000's) fine for being involved. There's a false equivalency made (in my eyes) between the corporate lobbying affected by the gagging bill, and trade union organising. One aims to make profit for a small cadre of shareholders, the other represents views of a membership that are free to pay in/opt out as they wish, who provide a mandate to elected officials.

So many public sector workers have been outsourced, with schools academised and care homes privatised. Aas new management do, they're imposing their terms and conditions while deftly circumventing regulations. Their T&Cs are always worse in the private than the public sector.

As part of these terms a shitload of zero hours contracts are being introduced - especially in the care sector. This means people are terrified of unionising, or even having a conversation with me (half of my work is carried out in hushed conversation in the dark corner of a provincial Costa Coffee).

As people are on zero hour contracts, bosses that find out workers are potentially unionising want to make an example of staff. And because they're on zero hours, they find that next week they have fewer, and the week after, fewer. It's horrific.

This affects the most oppressed in society. Care sector workers (or 'emotional' labour) are more likely to be female, and more likely to be migrant workers. They are also extremely low paid. It's the cruelest irony that when people need solidarity most, they are too scared to put their arms out for each other.

Young People's Drug & Alcohol / Sexual Health Practitioner

To be a frontline worker working with vulnerable children and young people under the current Conservative government is to exist in a constant state of heightened anxiety, anger and frustration. We are witnessing devastating cuts to to services that support the most politically expendable in society: children and young people.

Against a backdrop of rising child poverty, increasingly poor mental health amongst under-18s, an under-resourced education system, overcrowded homes and decimated youth services, an entire generation is being failed. Perhaps, most damningly in one of the richest nations in the world in 2017, there is rising infant mortality amongst the most disadvantaged families as the gulf between those at the socioeconomic top and bottom continues to grow. This is a government which appears to view compassion as weakness and we are paying the ultimate price for it.

In truth, I am weary - not of working to support the children and young people on my caseload who continue to awe me with their resilience, their courage and incredible 'fuck you' spirit in the face of absolute adversity, but weary of trying to outrun cuts, to do more with less and function within a system which is at breaking-point.

I am weary of having to scrabble around to find food bank vouchers for young families who have had benefits payments delayed or stopped. Weary of presenting at police stations with petrified young women who have finally built up the courage to make statements against abusive partners only to be turned away because the station is cripplingly short-staffed and cannot spare an officer. Weary of trying to scale the barriers to accessing appropriate therapeutic support for young people who carry with them the horrific psychological legacy of a lifetime of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation. Weary of witnessing the gaping voids in mental health provision and wondering how severe someone's self-injuring has to become before they meet the threshold for assessment, and weary of finishing work on a Friday and spending fear-filled weekends wondering if some of my young people will make it to Monday.

Corbyn has given me reason to be cautiously optimistic: I believe he has reframed the debate around social democracy and, far from being the hard-left extremist and danger to society some might have us believe, his proposals seem to sit quite comfortably within the Nordic model which I believe Britain would do well to emulate. For myself, and my friends who are doctors, nurses, teachers and social workers, the Labour manifesto represents a viable bid to start to attempt to reverse some of the catastrophic damage inflicted by the current government.

Conservation officer / environmentalist

Reduction in funding to statutory conservation agencies, farm environmental subsidy schemes and academic institutions have meant that there are fewer people able to offer support and funding to help farmers move into wildlife friendly farming schemes. Government policy has also been to prevent non-government agencies from being more vocal about environmental issues, so there has been a lack of push back to government on the impacts of their policies on the environment and nature conservation. This is in my view a huge democratic issue: those people considered experts in the area of environment and environmental policy are not allowed to have a voice, and those government organisations who are supposed to be providing advice to farmers have been stopped from advertising their advice, or even putting their logos onto advisory material. It is my view that this is a very cynical way of undermining the value of such organisations, with the ultimate aim of disbanding them and therefore reducing the role of the state in anything. I fear that the election will result in hard Brexit and further austerity, resulting possibly in a large scale change in landscape and agricultural management, resulting in a further loss in what precious remaining wildlife we have left. I don't trust a Conservative government to value these things as they don't see the 'economic value' and don't value things for their own or for societies benefit.

Having a more healthy environment, whether that is clean air, safe climate, well managed green spaces, wider countryside with some wildlife in it, all are intrinsically related to a more healthy and better functioning society, whether that's as a result of better health or well being or simply on a daily basis. These tings are fundamental to a good society not a 'nice to have add on'. They are things that we are kicking down the track in the hope that they will go away, not really be a problem or fix themselves, and are most definitely seen as a luxury rather than a right to all in society. 

Registrar in Paediatrics, NHS

In my first year out of medical school, around a decade ago, I was working my general medical house job when a major incident was declared: a crash involving several vehicles on a nearby A-road. There was a pang of adrenaline as extra staff were dispatched to the emergency department to relieve the pressure. Fast forward eight winters and major incidents are being declared up and down the country on a weekly basis, simply to deal with a lack of beds. Eventually, the guidelines for declaring a major incident were restricted. The message was clear; to the public 'there is no crisis', to the staff, 'welcome to the new normal.'

It is in keeping with the general attitude of subterfuge and dishonesty that has characterised this government's approach to the NHS; just as the loathsome Ian Duncan Smith redefined child poverty for his party's benefit, just as zero-hour contracts are included in unemployment statistics, the crisis was simply rebranded rather than fixed.

In all honesty, no-one expects this government to fix the crisis. They trumpet “record levels of spending” on the NHS, neglecting to adjust for inflation, neglecting to adjust for spending as a % of GDP and most egregiously, neglecting to take account of the fact the social care budget has been cut by a third since 2009. 

The goodwill of the staff keeps the system afloat, but morale is at an all-time low and something will give soon. The public and government were justifiably outraged by the systematic failings in care at Mid-Staffs NHS trust, published in 2013, but the funding squeeze and plummeting morale risks repeat offences becoming commonplace.

We need a more honest discussion about the type of health service we want. If we want an NHS as we understand it; free at the point of service, with controlled waiting times for emergencies and outpatients, where staff have time for compassionate and thorough care, then it must be paid for. An unprecedented level of investment will be required to keep pace with increasing demand as the population ages and social care is stripped to the bone. As economic conservatives are fond of pointing out, there is no magic money tree. The only way to raise the funds is by increased taxation. I wish I could say that any of the parties had a comprehensive plan for this, but that would be dishonest. The Labour manifesto promises a national care service and increased investment, but health economists say the promised funds are still inadequate. The short sighted blunders of the previous Labour administration's PFI schemes also have to be acknowledged as contributing to our current state of affairs. At least a Labour government might offer the hope of an administration that has a genuine love for the service, rather than a health secretary who has authored a book calling for it to be dismantled.

I close with the thought that after the atrocity committed in Manchester last week, the rest of the election campaign will focus heavily on security. It is worth remembering that a collapsing health service will cost us far more in terms of personal tragedy and lives lost than the actions of one brainwashed murderer.

Social Worker

I work with adults who have ongoing chronic mental health problems. I love supporting service users and the dedication of my colleagues is inspiring but we are all starting to buckle under the pressure placed on us by the cuts.

Although 'mental health' seems to be the new political buzzword that is wheeled out to show politicians care and are in touch I'm not hopeful about change after the election. I'm terrified about what the future holds for my clients while all services are being restricted then restricted again.

For example, the local food bank is rationing the number of visits a client can make to once a month meaning that mentally ill people are going without food. They are being forced into using these services because of government policy. Many have been found fit to work despite their chronic conditions, have been forced into debt to pay the bedroom tax or have been sanctioned. Their desperation is one the most upsetting parts of my job because it is totally avoidable.

Neither party is having a proper conversation about funding social care. The electorate are not stupid. They know that something must be done but no party can put forward solutions without hysteria from the press and political opponents. This is paralysing any potential progress in coming up with a solution to this national crisis.

Mental health is lost in this argument. People with ongoing mental health problems often cannot sell their house or raid a pension pot. Many of them can't rely on friends and family as unpaid carers

Waits for psychology on the NHS are taking years, assessments months and medical reviews weeks. The cuts mean that until someone is having a real crisis in their mental health they don't get state support at which point it can feel too late. This is very upsetting for service users and their families who are left to support them on their own. I regularly turn people one step from crisis away and I feel dreadful for it. That is not why I chose this career.

I come into work every day terrified about what will happen because of the lack of staff. In the NHS staff pay and morale is low but caseloads are dangerously high so staff are leaving to protect their own health. Brexit has had an instant impact. Within weeks, staff who are EU nationals started to leave but because of seven years of budget cuts they are not being replaced.

Theresa May announced a plan to recruit 10,000 generic mental health professionals but since 2010 6,000 specialist mental health nurses have left. Honestly, I don't understand where she will find 10,000 people willing to put up with these working conditions.

The reaction of the Conservatives to these problems is to carry on as they were previously by pushing responsibility for decisions away from central government and continuing vicious cuts. Across the UK, people are suffering and even dying because of the policies which Conservative ministers have voted through but they refuse to take any responsibility. I don't understand how they cannot see or care about the thousands of lives which they are devastating. This is another reason so many staff are leaving my profession – we just can't deal with watching this unfold with no hope of change.

I agree with a lot in Labour's manifesto. I do believe that the Labour leadership care about the issues but I have no confidence that they will win. I am terrified at the thought of five more years of Tory rule unopposed by the selfishness of Corbyn and his team. They are refusing to acknowledge that his unpopular leadership is putting the people the Labour party should be standing up for at risk. Even the staff I work with have become disillusioned with him and we are meant to be his core vote. If he can't even inspire us I have no hope for a positive outcome for the people I support on 8th June.

Secondary School teacher

As someone working in secondary education, this election is vital to the value and values of education in this country. The sweeping changes the current government have made to the education and qualifications system over the past five years have completely re-drawn what learning in the country looks like to the detriment of the lives and experiences of young people, and if they were to get re-elected these changes would be magnified. My concern around the current government's approach to education fall across both the academic changes made to qualifications and the curriculum, and the structure of the education system itself.

In terms of curriculum changes, the current Conservative government's attitude towards schooling fundamentally sucks all the joy out of learning. The curriculum has become so narrow, and so focused on a core of 'traditional' academic subjects, on rote learning, and on remembering and regurgitating, than there is no scope for flexibility, innovation, or just doing fun, wider, more enriching activities that enhance the student experience, widen their perspective of the world and allow them to think freely, ask questions and challenge existing ideas. A good Marxist would tell you this is exactly the point of the school system; to entrench the status quo, stop people asking questions and keep people in their place. The increased focus on forcing all students to spend their main curriculum time a slim range academic EBacc subjects marginalises more creative and practical subjects, reducing opportunities for students to express themselves, and forcing less academic or more practically minded and skilled students into courses and pathways the don't suit them or meet their needs. It also reduces time schools have available for wider learning and extracurricular activities; I used to run school debating and mock trial teams, developing valuable skills for students in oracy, self-confidence, and formulating and articulating arguments and opinions, sadly I or the students no longer have the time to do this.

Structurally, the government seem hell-bent on returning to a two-tier system, either openly through the re-introduction of Grammars, or through more subtle and less publicised changes to the way the new GCSE qualifications are graded. I know lots will be written about the re-introduction of Grammars, so I don't feel a massive need to repeat some of those arguments here, only to reiterate my argument above that any system to values purely academic qualifications over creative or practical ones seems morally hard to justify. More insidious is the way that the pass grade at GCSE (previously a C), traditionally seen as the gateway to accessing higher education and jobs, has been split now into a 'standard' and 'good' pass, creating a further two-tier approach. There is no clarity as to what Universities or employers will accept moving forward. Imagine the unfairness of a teenager from a difficult or challenging background pouring endless energy, time and emotion into getting themselves across the 'standard' pass line, only to be told further down the line that their employer or university of choice will only accept a 'good' pass.

The politically-motivated decision to essentially sideline local authority control and force all schools into large multi-academy trusts is also highly problematic. Whilst some critics will argue that this is privatisation-by-stealth for me what is more concerning is that it is corporatisation, where individual schools become franchises of a larger overarching 'corporate' entity, limiting their scope for individuality and their own unique culture and approach to learning. Multi-academy trusts more often then not offer out-of-the box culture, systems and processes, which all schools under their umbrella must adopt, regardless of context or their own existing ethos. It's like Starbucks for learning. Consequently there becomes a very narrow model for what a 'successful' school looks like, and that ethos and value system trickles down into the way we view individual students: if you don't fit the pre-defined model of success, you don't get a look in. Schools should be places that foster and encourage students to grow as individuals, not squash any sense of difference out of them so they fit into a closed-off mould.

In my final year working in the best school I've ever worked in, an openly gay Year 11 student wore a full prom dress to the leavers prom and no-one batted an eyelid. A successful school is one that develops the confidence in young people to be themselves no matter what, and the open-mindedness in other to accept them. Sadly this ideal of what a school can be has, under this Government, become seen by too many people as an outdated one and the reasons I and others in the profession got into education are falling by the wayside. The choice we face on 8th June, and the approach the winning party takes to how we develop young people, will massively shape how future generations see the world. My fear is that if the Conservatives prevail, they we impose a system which means we aren't equipping our young people with the skills to challenge them in the future.

Campaigner for adults with learning difficulties

It seems from the outside looking in that one of the main battlegrounds for disabled people and people with learning disabilities over the last few years has been the terrain of 'independent living': what does it mean to live an independent life, with as much control as possible over your choices, your money, your time? 

In the last few years, I think this narrative of 'independence' has become a weapon for the coalition and then the incumbent government. Under the rubric of austerity, and now under the heading of a slightly different brand of conservatism, the politics of what an 'independent life' means has grown into an often multi-headed and violent thing. One would struggle to argue against the idea that a disabled person should live a life that is as 'independent' as possible. But what that means to this government is very different to what one might expect.

Instead, the line between independence and isolation is consistently thinning. Even the naming of the welfare reforms pursues this logic: Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is gradually (and violently) becoming Personal Independence Payment (PIP). What I see often, in assessments for adults being 'invited' to move from DLA to PIP, in assessments by local authority services, in assessments by housing support providers, is a reiteration at any possible turn: you are an independent adult, our support would only encourage dependence, you can look after yourself. 

Voting for another five years of Tory government would be tantamount to inflicting wilful and ongoing degradation on the most marginalised groups: there is no doubt that the conditions within which a lot of the people I support live are worsening. Whichever spot someone with a learning disability might fall on this spectrum of access to an 'independent life', the people I work with are increasingly active in learning, double checking, and shouting about their rights, their entitlements and their needs.

The demands people make when we get utopian in a group session are coarse, necessary and crude (I mean those all in a positive sense): it is not to have to stretch £5 over a week and be told only that these are difficult times. It is to eat and drink as one pleases, to open the door to an accessible and affordable home that you leave and stay in as you please. It is to say, no one will be treated as subhuman. 

College Counsellor and Service Coordinator

Working in a further and higher education college, I'm very concerned about the looming election. In the late 90s, I left my job in an HMV store to train as a counsellor, just as New Labour came to power. It felt a hopeful time after growing up under Thatcherism. But now the Tories are emboldened again. In my sector, colleges have suffered savage funding cuts under successive coalition and Conservative governments. Many staff have had no pay rises in years (so effectively pay has gone down) and we live in anticipation of yearly redundancies. Student support, such as counselling, sometimes gets cut or even axed completely, just as our culture talks more openly about how useful it is.

So we might see Prince Harry discussing the value of therapy, but the reality is very different if you can't pay for it. No doubt the Prince didn't sit for weeks on a waiting list, only to be directed to online self-help by a stressed 'wellbeing practitioner' in a call centre, which is all many people get from the NHS. If your case is deemed serious enough (but not too serious), you might get a few sessions of CBT, but often this falls woefully short of a person's needs. Meanwhile, statutory and charity sector mental health services have been decimated by austerity, punishing those who need them most. For me, this is all part of the same dehumanising ideology, which values only our potential for work, not our capacity to think and feel. The prospect of another five years is deeply depressing.

Primary school teacher

Education policy, like so many aspects of government policy, is often something that successive governments seem to change purely for the sake of change. Education ministers, who often have no experience in education, dream up ideas to put their personal stamp on the way children and young people are taught.

Right now we are still suffering from Michael Gove's ideas about the teaching of writing and grammar. Gone are such easily understandable terms as 'comma sandwich' and 'speech marks', replaced by 'subordinate clauses' and 'inverted commas'. Add to this the fronted adverbials, noun phrases, determiners, prepositions and so on, that children of six or seven are expected not only to use, but to identify using these abstract grammatical terms, then the joy of writing creatively is sucked away and replaced by technically adept (if the children are successful) but dull and clumsy pieces of writing designed to show off these skills.

I don't know if a Labour government would do a lot to change this, however they have promised a review of the Key Stage 1 and 2 SATs. These are tests designed to gauge the success of a school, and result in a culture of teaching-to-the-test and children being put under immense pressure to succeed during what should be a time for exploring all that learning has to offer. It is my belief that both sets of tests should be scrapped and schools assessed based on quality of teaching as opposed to the achievement of children which is subject to many factors out of teacher's control.

From an education point of view, the manifesto promise that I feel strongest about is the promise to scrap university tuition fees. While I was lucky enough to be one of the last intakes to have their fees paid for my first degree, I still had to pay (borrow) £9000 when I retrained as a teacher. The level of debt that students leave university with is a huge discouragement to children from less privileged backgrounds and that discouragement ultimately feeds back into their commitment to education throughout their time in school. In a time when ignorance is often celebrated in popular culture, more than ever we should be giving free access to the best education to all children and young adults.

Mental health nurse working with probation & courts services

I am lucky that I do not fear redundancy in my job, but the current government's policies that erode confidence in health and social care are, to me, a neglect of their responsibilities, and display a lack of empathy for the country. I have little hope for the coming election, not because I don't think there are honourable people in opposition parties, but because I see no organised cross-party opposition which I think is the only thing that will halt the dominance of the Tory party.

The thing I fear most (in regards healthcare) is the increasing selling of NHS services to private companies. This is largely invisible to the public as there is no additional price at point of purchase, but I have seen several examples where private companies have taken over from NHS contracts and jobs are later downgraded to poorer paid posts. And as for the possible impact of Brexit, don't get me started. 

Of course large parts of the press in the UK do little to help report the real story, which to me another betrayal of British values. I don't mean this in some nostalgic sense, but just another example of how influential some of these morally corrupt press organisations are. 

Local authority housing officer

I've worked in housing for the local authority for just over five years now. My background is in social work which I decided to leave due to stress-related health problems. Social housing appealed to me and I started work as a housing officer back in 2012. I joined a well-staffed and seemingly happy team, a welcome change from my previous job. 

It was not long before the Tory/Libdem coalition government's welfare reform changes began to be implemented. This started with the 'bedroom tax' but was also accompanied by year-on-year reductions in central government funding and so-called 'austerity' measures. Voluntary redundancy packages were offered and staff were not replaced - add pay restraint to this and moral has suffered badly. 

Recent benefit changes such as Universal Credit, housing benefit entitlement and a huge loss of rent income due to the 1% rent reduction have led to a situation where we are very poorly resourced. Neighbourhoods look neglected as grass and shrub cutting is seldom done, there's an increased incidence of fly tipping and littering. Little if any street cleaning done; this all has a detrimental impact upon the quality of peoples lives.
  Benefit sanctions have led to an increase in abandoned properties, evictions and homelessness, higher incidences of crime and domestic violence. I know of tenants who have chosen to be without gas due to cost. In one 10 flat block seven gas meters are disconnected. Along with all this we are experiencing more hostility from tenants.

If the Tories remain in power on the 9th of June things will certainly get worse in terms of the economic and human cost; I'm not beyond hope but five more years of this and Brexit leave me little to cling on to.

Communications department, quango/regulator

When austerity started the department I work for had a 20% cut in budget which meant a lot of redundancies and a change in the culture of the organisation. There's still a feeling of insecurity and any mention of things like changes in redundancy terms makes people nervous that it's a precursor to another round of job losses. I fear if the Conservatives win that more cuts are on the way as the economy is bound to suffer following Brexit, and Brexit will also be a convenient scapegoat for cuts. Less money will mean the public sector as a whole, not just my department, will start to struggle to deliver services which could lead to a destabilising of society, particularly with feelings running high as a result of the Brexit vote and the press stirring the mix. I do feel some hope as Labour's bold manifesto is offering to change the way things are done. However I feel like it is too little too late and the next decade looks bleak.

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Mark
Jun 1, 2017 11:33am

It saddens me to say I can relate to this. I training in long term psychodynamic psychotherapy just like the person above and I worked for a London NHS trust on a voluntary basis with patients with complex needs. Many of them had been waiting well over a year for any help but there was not the resources available to provide the help they need. Nor were there any resources to pay those who were doing the work either. I'm three years post-qualification but have just left the profession because I can't afford to work unpaid any longer.

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Luke Richards
Jun 1, 2017 2:03pm

It's good to read thoughts from your readers on this. Thankyou, Quietus. I spent the winter in hospital and saw firsthand 'black alerts', delayed chemotherapy treatment, emergency sepsis patients being carried up several flights of stairs (due to broken lifts), dying people blocking ward beds (due to lack of hospice rooms)... All the while, the staff were running around for 12+ hours straight caring and saving lives - some of them on wages meaning they couldn't afford lunch from the in-hospital M&S. I'm not a single-issue voter, but those bleak and sharply etched memories of my past year are all I can think of in the lead-up to polling day.

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Firefighter
Jun 2, 2017 7:56am

I have been a firefighter for 20years with Humberside Fire & Rescue Service. I probably speak for the majority of firefighters in saying it is a worry what the current government & a continuation of their austerity measures and cuts will mean for us. Most of us have to work an extra 5years, pay into our pension, upto 60yrs old, for a lesser pension to the one we signed up for when we joined. Many are worried about maintaining the fitness & ability to do this job upto this age. And we may face upto a further 40% pension penalty if we fail to do so. I also expect we will be required to take on extra duties, be inadequately trained but be personally liable should anything go wrong. We haven't had a pay rise for about 8years.
For the general public the cuts to all emergency services will and has obviously diluted the services they can provide. The fire service in our area has already been expected to carry out police & ambulance tasks when their staff have been under resourced. We have been turned out to assist police in searches for criminals without any kind of training or equipment for this (stab vests)! We regularly are turned out to 'assist ambulance staff' only to attend & find no ambulance present, the fire service are just turned out instead because they are available & we muddle through with our limited knowledge of 1st aid. So as a member of the public if you ring 999 and ask for an ambulance, don't be surprised if a fire engine turns up! As resources are thinned, response times will rise, calls may be prioritised, saveable lives may be lost, property damage may increase, insurance premiums may rise as fire causes more damage. We may even go full circle where private fire services are employed by insurance companies to attend only properties that can show a fire insurance certificate. Some larger industries already employ their own private specialist fire service on site (airports,petrochemical plants, power stations).
Just like with private and national health care, we may end up with an elite private fire & rescue service who respond to the few who can afford the cover. While the poorer masses have to make do with the under resourced, poorly trained and over-stretched national fire service.
The future looks bleak under conservative government.

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Jun 2, 2017 1:18pm

Kick them out.

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B.R.
Jun 2, 2017 1:49pm

Ah, the can-do attitude of the UK’s public sector.

Two words missing from this one-sided discussion: debt and deficit.

We are in this terrible, terrible mess because (as a nation) we spend more money than we make.

We have done for decades. Decades of selfish, infantile politics, from all sides of the political spectrum, promising us there are no hard choices to be made. This election should be a reality check: but instead we’re offered the same second-rate clichés from third tier politicians. “Strong and stable”, “borrow to invest”, “for the many, not the few”: the sounds of fiddling while Rome burns.

If you ignore a problem, it doesn’t go away. It only gets worse and worse. And the chronic economic problems that cripple the structure of nearly all of Britain’s institutions can no longer be ignored. Britain doesn’t work for most of the people who live here. It’s hard to live here; harder than it needs to be.

But unless we accept that we are going to have a harder life than our parents were lucky enough to live, that we MUST change how we live because the country HAS changed… then we get nowhere.

The adolescent level of politics on display on this page: cries of despair about the wicked Tories, austerity cuts (despite the fact we are, by definition, a financially profligate nation), denial and disgust over the Brexit vote, the dead tone of weakness and nihilism: all of that is the easiest response.

The real question is: what are YOU going to do about it?

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Dan
Jun 3, 2017 7:48am

In reply to B.R.:

Thank god for a bit of balance. Some of these contributions are beyond parody.

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Playworker
Jun 3, 2017 10:21am

I have worked in play settings in some of the roughest and deprived boroughs and areas in London for the past 13 years, with children and teenagers - on adventure playgrounds, schools, and playgrounds for children with disabilities. Playgrounds provide play services where children can go after school, on weekends and holidays, sometimes up until 8pm, where they can be outdoors, play, be with friends, and be supported with whatever they bring through the door, by caring, highly skilled and supportive playworkers. Playwork has been traditionally under resourced, but in the past few years the cuts to play provision have been estimated to be around 70 per cent across the profession, resulting in some play provision closing, and many staff/projects being expected to work with minimal resources. I can relate to what a lot of people here have written - staffing being so under resourced that you can't do your job properly - you can't spend time with the children, and give them the care, time and attention that they need (bearing in mind that some of these children are from very dysfunctional and struggling homes, and present all kinds of behaviour, including being physically violent sometimes). Staff are now told to do admin in the time they are meant to be delivering sessions to children or clients (all of my charity worker friends are reporting this as well), and in more than one workplace I have been expected to do extra unpaid work, to make sure basic minimum safety requirements are met - the bottom line being that if an accident / safeguarding incident happens, the £10 paid an hour, zero hours contract worker who didn't make the place safe will be responsible - it is now standard to have no manager present on site, or even running a project, but to have what is described as 'cooperative teams' running projects or play sessions, i.e. less qualified / poorly paid staff who are working minimal hours, with no set prep time, left in charge without managers present. In the last three years I have resigned from two jobs as I did not feel safe at work, and felt I could not keep the children safe due to funding cuts and low staffing, and the understandable decision of organisations to try and keep their projects running anyway. Research and professional knowledge very clearly show that working in such stressful conditions leads to burnout, which is basically what most people in this article are talking about. How this would change under a labour government is not entirely clear to me, but I also think that we have got used to such bad politics that we can't imagine any other. Corbyn was my local MP for 5 years, he has been locally voted in for many years and his seat is unmovable, I think that says a lot, that people who have known him for a long time, and live in an area where there is high levels of child poverty, and extreme wealth, and everyone in between, have confidence in him.

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G.S.
Jun 3, 2017 11:45am

In reply to B.R.:

Ah, the head in the sand attitude of someone incapable of comprehending that national economics are not the same as household economics.

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Essay Valley
Jun 8, 2017 11:35am

It disheartens me to state I can identify with this. I preparing in long haul psychodynamic psychotherapy simply like the individual above and I worked for a London NHS trust on a deliberate premise with patients with complex needs. A large number of them had been sitting tight well over a year for any assistance yet there was not the assets accessible to give the assistance they require. Nor were there any assets to pay the individuals who were taking the necessary steps either. I'm three years post-capability yet have recently left the calling since I can't stand to work unpaid any more.

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Louis Ferdinand C
Aug 3, 2017 5:57pm

How is it possible that a rich country has such a bad infrastructure? Some people here say that it spends too much. But does it? Or should it collect more? It starts with efficiency. The UK is 30% less efficient than Germany. 10% less than France. Not because people work less here, they work more. Not because they are paid more, there are no 0 hour contracts in Germany or France. But because the infrastructure is disastrous (no point under paying workers if goods don't arrive on time because trains are broken), and staff is under qualified. So maybe, I say, just maybe, rather than focusing on dangerous immigrants destroying the country, the UK could focus on getting its tax money collected (sorry, being a tax haven is not a blessing, think about these billions that never reach HMRC...), be less complacent with serial tax evasion, and then schools will be funded, trains will arrive on time, hospital will have enough beds, etc. The issue is not the EU, the issue is how a medieval system cripples society and makes rich people richer.

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