Another £20m of cuts will see councils end their historic “paternal provider” role, a chief executive has admitted.
North Tyneside Council’s most senior official, Patrick Melia, has said the nature of local authorities will change to one that “steps in when people fall”.
The council needs to reduce its spending by 2018 by around £20m, and is now preparing to set out three years worth of spending plans as it looks at the next budget rounds.
Mr Melia said that if his £150m budget is “spent wisely we can still do a lot of good with it”.
Alongside that cash comes health spending, and money for schools, homes and building work which will still see some half a billion pounds spent in the borough, something the chief executive says is “a cause for optimism”.
The council official said that while he cannot rule out job losses at the council over the next three years, he could point to a strong record at the council of avoiding compulsory redundancies, and was hopeful to make the process os painless as possible.
He said: “Local government in the North East has been paternalistic. We have always wanted to care for people, with the recession we have had and the way things are we now have to help people to do these things for themselves, but to be there to catch people if they do it for themselves.
“We will be moving away from being a paternalistic provider of services to one that enables people to look after themselves, and reduce demand for services as a result.”
Mr Melia added: “We are working now on a plan that sees us think three years ahead. If our share of local spending is £150m by then how best do we spend that money?
“It means we have to redesign how we deliver services here.
“I think one thing we need to think about as part of that is we often talk of hard to reach people, but it is the council that can be hard to reach for some people.
“I mean the council knows where people live, but some people will just not come through the door of an official council building, so changing how we provide those services is something we will look at.”
Alongside that will come a continued focus on regeneration, with work continuing on the likes of the A19 Silverlink improvements, the redevelopment of Wallsend town centre and the various projects around Whitley Bay and the coast.
“We need to help businesses as much as people, to get people with the right skills to be where they are needed,” Mr Melia added.