North East is worst-hit area in UK after council and welfare cuts

DEPRIVED areas of the North East are being hit up to four times as hard as more affluent areas of the South by the combined blow of council and welfare cuts, new figures show.

DEPRIVED areas of the North East are being hit up to four times as hard as more affluent areas of the South by the combined blow of council and welfare cuts, new figures show.

The research reveals the region is the worst-hit area in the country, with cuts amounting to £566 per head.

Least affected is the South East, where the double hit of local government cutbacks and benefits changes are just over half as great, at £292 per head.

The list of 10 local authority areas hardest hit by the cuts includes seven out of the eight most disadvantaged parts of the country, according to the Government’s own deprivation index.

Worst hit in the region is Hartlepool, losing out on £724 a head, the sixth highest nationally and almost four times the total in the least-hit area, Mole Valley in Surrey, which saw a total loss of £182 per head.

The town, is followed by Middlesbrough (£696), South Tyneside (£663), Sunderland (£626), Redcar & Cleveland (£592), Newcastle (£557), Gateshead (£557), County Durham (£527) Stockton (£501), North Tyneside (£471), Darlington (£451) and Northumberland (£428).

The figures released yesterday were independently compiled by Newcastle City Council and Sheffield Hallam University, and show the joint impact of local authority and welfare cuts in 2014/15.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said: “The Government needs to think again to make sure that parts of the country are not getting off lightly and that everyone shares the pain.

“We have seen people queuing out of the door as they come to the council looking for help and advice on how to deal with the welfare and benefit cuts.”

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The Tories are zeroing in on areas in need and hitting them hard – twice.

“Communities facing the biggest hit to local government are also losing most from cuts to their tax credits and benefits, yet instead of helping working families, the Tories are giving millionaires a tax cut. That tells you everything you need to know about this Government’s priorities.”

But Conservative Party vice-chairman Bob Neill said: “This Government is saving taxpayers’ money – we have cut income tax for the low-paid, frozen council tax for hard-working families and pensioners, and are reforming welfare to back those who do the right thing and want to get on.

“Our welfare reforms will help people back to work, which will benefit the economy far more than the Labour alternative of simply abandoning people to claim benefits year after year.

“Labour have opposed every single saving in local government, despite the fact that Alistair Darling was planning £52bn of cuts before the election. Labour’s only solution now is to tax more and borrow more, which would mean soaring tax bills on hard-working people.”

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