As Salford City Council continues to struggle with £187million of Government cuts over the last eight years, the affect on local services and staff is highlighted in a new survey by public workers from their trade union UNISON.
The survey of almost 1,500 UNISON members in the North West reveals staggering amounts of pessimism about local councils and their ability to function to an acceptable standard.
"Vital local services in the North West are collapsing" states UNISON, commenting on the survey "Local government spending cuts have left councils in the North West of England unable to meet the needs of local communities and, in some cases, are putting the public at risk..."
81% of council workers surveyed have no confidence in the future of local services, 49% are thinking of leaving their jobs for less stressful work elsewhere; 69% say residents don't receive help and support when they need it, and 56% are not confident vulnerable residents are safe and cared for.
It goes on and on...54% of those who responded believe their council no longer delivers quality services, 45% that their employer doesn't make the right decisions for the public, and two thirds (67%) are concerned about the financial situation of their council.
Council workers identified a lack of front line staff (65%), adult social care (62%), safeguarding children and young people (50%) and road repairs (45%) as the biggest challenges facing local authorities in the North West.
Three-quarters also reported redundancies in their departments and, as a result, two in five (42%) don't feel secure in their jobs. Many spoke of colleagues leaving and not being replaced, causing those remaining to pick up the extra work. As a result, 41% said their workload is unmanageable and three in five (59%) that they regularly work beyond their contracted hours.
Council staff also shared stories of overcrowded families living in mouldy properties, fly-tipping being left for weeks, increasing rodent populations, residents' cars damaged by huge potholes, and vulnerable children, young people and adults not getting the help and support they need.
It's a staggering indictment of Tory Government cuts, and in the survey, 82% admitted these cuts have had a negative impact on their ability to do the job as well as they can.
The North West survey has been released to coincide with UNISON's local government conference, and the union's North West regional secretary Kevan Nelson comments: "Local services are collapsing and council workers are being left to pick up the pieces and do the best they can amid the chaos. This disturbing survey should ring alarm bells in Whitehall and alert ministers to the crisis happening in councils across the North West.
"Local authorities have had to cut so many vital services that they have now reached a point where vulnerable children and the elderly struggle to get the help that they need, entire communities are suffering, and the public are being put at risk" he explains .
"With cuts to road and bridge maintenance, potholes in roads are left unfilled, and bridges are at risk of crumbling" he adds "Crematoriums are not maintained, streetlights stay broken, and parks are in disrepair as councils don't have the equipment or the staff to adequately maintain them.
"There are now over one million people with an unmet need for social care because councils don't have the resources to support them" he concludes "Now is the time to reverse these cuts and invest in local government once more or the very fabric of our society will come unstuck."