More cuts on the way for North East councils as funding is reduced

Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council are facing more cuts as Government funding is further reduced

Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth
Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth

Leaders at two North councils are faced with having to make tens of millions of pounds worth of additional cuts following reduced government funding.

Bosses at Durham County Council have announced they will have to find an extra £20m worth of savings to meet a target of £222m up until 2017.

And their counterparts at Northumberland County Council are faced with having to find an extra £9.5m over the financial years up until 2016.

Bosses at Durham last night revealed they have voiced “our very serious concerns” with the Government over the impact the cuts are having and appealed for a settlement to “reflect local needs.”

They are also in discussions with groups which represent councils in the North East to form a joint response to the government on the impact of significantly increased savings targets on the public.

Those at Northumberland said they had yet to establish where the savings would be found but vowed to “protect front line services as much as possible.”

Durham council’s cabinet will next Wednesday be told that further government spending cuts will mean the authority must save £20m more than was reported to members in July.

The additional reductions in grants leave the council facing an overall required savings target of £222m, for the period 2011-17.

Council Leader, Coun Simon Henig, said: “Local government continues to face the highest levels of spending cuts whilst also bearing the responsibility for delivering the vast majority of frontline services to residents.

“For County Durham, as with other areas in our region, these budget pressures are particularly painful for some of our most deprived areas.

“As a result I have written to central government expressing our very serious concerns regarding the impact these increasing savings targets are having here and appealing for the financial settlement to reflect local needs.”

The council is also in discussions with the Association of North East Councils, the Local Government Association and the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities to form a joint response to the Government on the impact of significantly increased savings targets on the public.

The authority is promising widespread consultation with residents on how its cuts are arrived at.

Coun Henig added: “As always the views of our residents remain vital to us during this very difficult process.

“Understanding how changes to services will affect people’s lives and what areas the public see as priorities will continue to inform budget decisions.

“Throughout this autumn we will use our 14 area action partnerships, our communication channels and targeted community and partnership work, to gather as much public feedback as we can.

“What we hear will help determine how we move forward.

“It’s crucial everyone has their say.”

Meanwhile, a report to Northumberland’s policy board next Tuesday tells members that further reductions to government funding have increased the council’s required savings over the period 2014-16 by £9.5 million.

It explains how a review since the council’s spending plans were agreed in February has resulted in further savings of £7.466m being required for 2014- 15.

The savings target for 2014-15 has therefore increased from £34.579 million to £42.045million.

The council’s cuts bill over the next four years equates to £132.3m.

An authority source last night said the council has yet to work out where the cuts would come but stressed it would be seeking to “protect front line services as much as possible.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer