Local authorities will have to continue making huge cuts under a Labour Government, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has warned.
He was speaking to The Journal as local authorities in the North East prepared to publish details of cuts to services they have been forced to make due to reductions in grants from central government.
Newcastle City Council will next month launch a consultation over plans to cope with a reduction in funding of £90m between 2016 and 2019.
Mr Balls said the next government would have no choice other than to cut spending, because it would inherit a national budget deficit of at least £75 billion.
He warned: “I know from my own constituency that the cuts have been deep. The easy savings have already been made and people really care about children’s centres, child protection, adult social care, the state of he roads. This is a big deal
“But I can’t deliver the resources for local authorities simply by waving a magic wand. It’s got to be about getting the economy growing more strongly.
“And the fact that we’ve got the economy slowing down next year, that’s a problem for me.”
Mr Balls said the proportion of civil service jobs that were located in London had increased since 2010 – but a future Labour government would demand that posts were relocated to other parts of the country.
He said: “We will say that every government department, in the first months of the next Labour government, will have to draw up a plan for civil service and wider public sector job relocation outside London.
“I think the fact that this government is increasing the proportion in London is going in the wrong direction, is expensive and is unbalancing the economy.”
Mr Balls told Labour’s party conference this year that the next Government would face a budget deficit of £75 billion.
But it now looked as if the deficit might be even higher, he said.
And the Shadow Chancellor highlighted immigration as an issue voters were concerned about – and said Labour had to respond to that concern.
“The pace of immigration and its impact on people’s wages, terms and conditions has been a real issue.
“We are going to have to have tougher controls and fairer rules which are fairer to people here in Britain, to stop undercutting of wages but also to say that if you come and you haven’t got a job then you won’t get unemployment benefit.
“People know that skilled migration is really important. We know that the National Health Service needs migration. But it’s got to be properly controlled and it’s got to be done in a fair way.”