Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Devastating Cuts Puts Thousands of Jobs at Risk; Councils Working through Details of Spending Review

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Devastating Cuts Puts Thousands of Jobs at Risk; Councils Working through Details of Spending Review

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN PEARSON

TYNESIDE is on track for thousands of job losses as the Government confirms plans to swipe millions of pounds from town hall budgets.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has ordered council bosses to cut services by more than pounds 100m next year.

But the MP has faced a fierce backlash after he was accused of dismissing desperate pleas from councils to slow down the pace of the cuts, as city leaders try to save some of the 5,000 jobs so far set to go.

Despite finding extra cash for social services, the Government has been criticised for pushing ahead with "staggering" cuts.

No service is safe from scrutiny as council accountants struggle to make the numbers add up.

With the announcement of how much cash is set to be stripped from their budgets, council chiefs are having to review all the services they provide with cost-cutting in mind. From bin collection to grass cutting, care for older people and public libraries, everything is going under the microscope in the hunt for savings.

Mr Pickles said no council will lose more than 8.9% of its cash in the first year of cuts, but South Tyneside is among those which faces that harshest blow and it will make 1,200 posts redundant.

Some Southern Tory-run councils face cuts worth only 1%, but it looks as if Labour's Tyneside heartland is preparing for years of belt-tightening. The Lib Dem-run Newcastle City Council alone will lose more than pounds 26m, making life difficult for finance chiefs already preparing to make 2,000 posts redundant.

In Gateshead, where 600 jobs are already at risk, the Government has slashed pounds 18m from its budget.

Conservative-run North Tyneside Council lost 4.3% of its budget and this pounds 9m loss will see some 300 jobs going.

Gateshead Council Strategic Director, Finance and ICT Derek Coates, says: "At this stage, it's difficult to say precisely how the figures announced by the Government will translate into levels of Council services.

"We were already planning to reduce council spending by pounds 25m next year and we'll be looking at the figures closely over the coming months to see if this announcement changes that target. …

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