Newcastle City Council face another round of cuts

Government plans to cut council funding in 2015 are expected to be far worse than first thought

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes

Another round of council cuts is set to cause further job losses, it was last night feared.

Local authority spending chiefs say the cuts set for 2015 are around 10% worse than expected, and are gearing up for yet another battle with Government.

One North East council already committed to £100m of cuts to libraries and services, and has warned it faces another £8m loss.

Newcastle Council has said Government plans to cut funding again in 2015 are far worse than expected.

Earlier this year city leaders finalised a three-year plan to axe libraries, leisure centres and jobs after a bruising series of public consultations. The latest round of cuts, while not yet finalised, will see another round of savings carried out once areas are identified.

It is hoped the gap could be narrowed to £4m with new grants yet to be announced – but this has not been confirmed, leaving city spending chiefs once again facing 10% cuts.

Council leader Nick Forbes is to write to the National Audit Office and the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee expressing serious concerns about the impact of the latest funding proposals should they go ahead.

But, he said, it was unlikely the Government would reverse its plans. He added: “It will be extremely difficult to force the Government to change its approach.

“But the scale of these cuts mean we have to warn the public and Parliament of the grave position they will put the vast majority of councils, not just Newcastle, if more cuts go ahead.”

Mr Forbes added: “These proposals spell more bad news for Newcastle where families are already struggling to make ends meet.

“We could be forced to make another £8.5m of cuts.

“This would be a hammer blow on top of the £100m of cuts we have consulted on.

“We do not want to do this, but we don’t have any choice.

“We will continue to make the case to Government that continued cuts are having an impact that is extremely damaging, and we will stand alongside our regional partners, the Core Cities group and the LGA in making that case.

“From the start we have been clear that we will be honest with residents as well as our staff, and will continue to set budgets that protect the most vulnerable in line with our principles of fair play.”

Papers prepared for councillors by respected Treasurer Paul Woods say it is “essential that there is greater visibility about the true scale and potential impact of the cuts so that Parliament can take a fully informed decision on the level of cuts.”

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