The public, staff, and PSA agree: Auckland Council's service cuts spell disaster

Sunday 30 April 2023, 5:27AM




Feedback on Auckland Council’s proposed budget shows that cuts to services will be unpopular, irresponsible, and devastating to the communities the Council is supposed to serve. Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga says the Council needs to rethink its approach.

The public does not support the proposed cuts

The Council’s own public consultation revealed that 73% of individual submitters and 75% of organisations oppose some or all of the proposed cuts.

"Mayor Wayne Brown has promised to take this feedback on board," says PSA Assistant Secretary Bronwynn Maxwell. "We hope this means the Council reconsiders how it wants to tackle its budget. Such reckless cuts are not the answer."

Council staff also oppose the cuts

The Council surveyed staff about the proposed cuts. Responses showed that the majority oppose some or all of the cuts, and they believe those cuts will take a toll on the lives of Aucklanders.

The cuts would end vital services that Aucklanders cannot get elsewhere

According to the staff survey, 82% percent of staff said that cuts to regional services would "significantly negatively affect" communities and those communities "would not be able to access that service or support through another channel."

Seventy-eight percent said the same about cuts to regional grants, 72% about cuts to local boards, and 51% about withdrawing from early childhood education.

Themes from staff comments included that the proposal needed better strategic evidence and advice, and the cuts would be inequitable and would "disproportionately impact Māori and Pasifika."

The cuts would also be inconsistent with council policies, "including those related to climate change and Māori outcomes." Another theme was that changes "will result in a loss of expert knowledge … and will potentially increase workloads."

"Council staff know their roles, and they know what their work does for their communities," says Maxwell. "When they say these cuts are going to hurt communities, we need to believe them."

Austerity is not the answer

"Auckland Council has received a clear message from its public and its staff: the scale of the cuts being proposed is not the way forward," says Maxwell. "We urge the Council to look at the other options it has available. We have written to Auckland counsellors and are hoping to meet them to talk through our submission and concerns.

"The people of Tāmaki Makaurau deserve a city they want to live in, and a council that supports them."