CRITICAL council services face being slashed and workers thrown out of their jobs under the cuts ordered by the coalition Government.
Town hall chiefs warned frontline services would be cut and staff would lose their jobs as local government bears the brunt of “efficiency savings” designed to address Britain’s debt. Under-pressure social care budgets for the elderly and vulnerable could come under greater strain after Conservative Chancellor George Osborne and his Liberal Democrat deputy David Laws yesterday ordered councils to make a £1.165bn contribution to £6.2bn of cuts this year.
Other services, including libraries and after-school clubs, could also be hit – especially with town halls banned from raising council tax by the Government for at least a year.
Council leaders and the Government are now set to hold talks to decide exactly where the axe will fall, with the Treasury’s plans noticeably lacking in detail.
And even greater pain is on the way with David Laws warning the reductions were only a “first step”.
Jeff Reid, Lib Dem leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “We were on a programme of saving £20m anyway, so if it is on top of that, then we are going to be struggling.
“But it is not a surprise. It will mean whatever we decide. But what I would say is that 70% of our money is spent on wages.
“It is obviously going to have an effect on employment and a detrimental effect on the economy of Northumberland. It is bound to.”
John Shipley, Lib Dem leader of Newcastle City Council, said there was “no doubt” town halls faced some budget reductions.
But he stressed the key issue was cutting overheads and protecting services for the vulnerable.
“I am pleased for this financial year that message has got across to Government and there will be no cuts to service delivery this year,” said Mr Shipley.