Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Disaster Feared If Osborne Tries to Cut Again; Dossier Spells out Our Plight

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Disaster Feared If Osborne Tries to Cut Again; Dossier Spells out Our Plight

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional Affairs Correspondent ? 0191 201 6286 ?

BRACED FOR BIG DECISIONS LOCAL authorities yet to finalise their timetable for setting next year's budget include County Durham and Gateshead, with no announcements expected before Christmas. South Tyneside is also waiting for its draft timetable to be compiled and in Northumberland a draft will go before the executive on January 28.

North Tyneside will not clarify specific budget plans until January - a month later than usual - due to a delay in the national announcement of funding allocations from central Government to local authorities.

ADELEGATION of North East council leaders last night led a last-ditch attempt to head off even further cuts to North East council services.

Whitehall officials preparing for the Chancellor's Autumn Statement were presented with a dossier setting out how the region is already set to suffer in a "perfect storm" of budget reductions.

New figures put to ministers show that a controversial New Homes Bonus will by 2018 have taken an extra PS275m from North East councils to pay for home building in the South.

Paul Woods, the region's leading council treasurer, told politicians gathered at Westminster yesterday that the money for the Government's homes bonus is being taken from funds which should pay for potholes and care costs and instead is being sent to those areas building the most homes, creating a multimillion-pound Southern bias.

Durham council leader Simon Henig explained to members at the Association of North East Councils event that the region's biggest concern was that despite job losses averaging more than 1,000 at each council, officials would be back to the drawing board if George Osborne opted to cut from local authorities again.

He said: "On existing projections we are already facing a situation where we can fund only care costs in a decade's time, but if George Osborne stands up in December and says he is coming back for more we will face an even worse situation.

"We are at a watershed moment in which we can say that we have done all we can to mitigate the effects of the cuts, we have targeted the back office and made the efficiency savings. …

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