Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cash-Starved City's Services Facing Axe; Treasurer's Warning as Grants Shrink

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cash-Starved City's Services Facing Axe; Treasurer's Warning as Grants Shrink

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional Affairs Correspondent ? 0191 201 6286 ? adrian.pearson@ncjmedia.co.uk

CITY leaders have warned they will have no money for non-care services within a decade.

Newcastle Council says that shrinking Government grants, allied to the rising cost of looking after children in care and an increasingly elderly population means a difficult future lies ahead.

Treasurer Paul Woods has warned that money for repairing pot holes, fixing pavements, keeping libraries going and any city leisure spending will be almost entirely absent by 2020 on the latest Government projections.

The cause, a reduction in Government grants while bills continue to rise, is likely to lead to hundreds more redundancies at the council.

The council's leader has admitted services that people in the city rely upon will be axed over the coming years as result of Government spending decisions, while officers say there is little good news heading the region's way. Mr Woods made the predictions based on Local Government Association financial projections.

The treasurer said that while it would be years before they knew for certain just how bad the situation would be, planning had to start now for the worst case scenario. Already Newcastle Council is facing up to making savings of between PS90m to PS100m by 2016 as grant reductions and cost increases mount up.

The only non-care costs set to remain by 2020 are fees for waste collections and landfill charges as well as the money paid out to service the council's multi-million pound debt, officers said. Mr Woods told The Journal: "By 2018/19 at least, our projection says there is nothing left for central costs, for councillor services, for the democratic process, for anything such as highway maintenance, road maintenance, sports, leisure, culture, economic development, nothing left for any of that by the time we get there. …

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