North East faces 57% more cuts than rest of UK

Vital cash for struggling public services is to be slashed by up to 57% more than the national rate across the North East

Andy Stenning Communities Secretary Eric Pickles gives his speech to the Tory conference on Tuesday

Vital cash for struggling public services is to be slashed by up to 57% more than the national rate across the North East, a new report has revealed.

Newcastle faces one of the biggest cuts, with a spending reduction equivalent to £366 per home over the next two years – compared to a national average of £233.

The figures were revealed this week in a report by the Association of North East Councils, who say businesses, the elderly and children will be hardest hit.

The Journal told yesterday how Durham County Council face making an extra £20m worth of savings and Northumberland counterparts needed to save an extra £9.5m.

Newcastle council needs to save an extra £8m, on top of £100m worth of cuts it has already committed too.

Some areas in the South will see reductions of less than £90 per home – while Newcastle, Gateshead and North and South Tyneside councils together face an average £320 cut.

The report says the North East faces a “disproportionately high share” of an extra £1bn that the Department for Communities and Local Government is planning to cut from council budgets between now and 2016.

Commenting on the new figures, Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said: “In Parliament Government Ministers always deny that they are punishing the North.

“But these figures make it absolutely clear that the North East in general, and Newcastle in particular, is being forced to cut deeper and further than the Lib Dem and Tory heartlands, deepening the North South divide.”

The extra cuts will mean a total of £5.5bn has been pulled from council budgets since 2010.

ANEC have called on Eric Pickles to go back to the drawing board and allocate cuts fairly across all councils in England.

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, said the report showed the Government was continuing to target the North East unfairly by levelling disproportionate cuts against the region.

She said: “We know there need to be spending reductions, but this should be about priorities – and not prioritising the needs of the more affluent at the expense of the more vulnerable in society.

“The Coalition are totally out of touch with the North East and their spending decisions illustrate that very clearly.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Councils account for a quarter of all public spending and are forecast to spend £102bn this year – £4bn more than last year.

“Every bit of the public sector needs to keep doing its bit to pay off the inherited deficit.”

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