Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Today's the Day the Cuts Start to Bite

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Today's the Day the Cuts Start to Bite

Article excerpt


TODAY is April 6 which, for those not employed in financial circles or the accountancy profession, is usually just like any other day.

The sun rises, we go about our daily lives, the sun sets and eventually for most of us oblivion descends some time after 10pm, then the whole cycle starts again the following day.

However, I would venture to suggest this April 6 will go down in history as very significant. It's the date when the cuts start to bite.

Already we have had news of redundancies this week in the armed services, our regional government office has closed and countless other public sector organisations are lining up to announce the streamlining of their organisations.

The Arts Council has announced the favoured few which will still receive central government support, the regional development agency is on course for closure and the re-balancing of the economy is eagerly awaited.

The Northern Way, which I chaired, closed its doors on March 31, not because it was inefficient and profligate with public money, but because it was wholly dependent for its funding on the doomed RDA network. An independent evaluation of the work of the Northern Way will shortly be published, but I thought I would let readers have a sneak preview of its main conclusions.

"The Northern Way was seen as a credible, non-partisan voice on key pan northern issues, an important influence on national government, and an effective co-ordinator of thinking, views and evidence across the north. The issues it sought to address still remain... and there is a vacuum left in its absence."

It is true to say that localism to be expressed through the Local Enterprise Partnership may do much to empower local communities, but the issues the Northern Way sought to address - transport, low carbon energy, innovation and investment - are ones that cross local and regional boundaries and will define the way our economy responds to global issues for many years to come.

If I were a betting man, I would lay generous odds on some similar, cross-cutting body across the north being created before the end of this Parliament. …

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