Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Thousands Are Hit by a Double Whammy of Paying More for Far Less

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Thousands Are Hit by a Double Whammy of Paying More for Far Less

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Proctor Local Government Reporter

A DOUBLE whammy of cuts to core services and higher council tax bills will hit thousands of families across Tyneside next year.

Hard-pressed locals are being clobbered with soaring council tax bills in the latest series of cutbacks.

Meanwhile, services will continue to be slashed across Newcastle, the city council has revealed.

But Nick Forbes, leader of the Labour council, believes people will be 'realistic' and understanding his reasons as he blamed Coalition cuts.

The announcement that council tax could rise by an above inflation 2% for the first time in four years comes as the authority also plans on axeing 260 jobs.

Unions believe between 70 and 90 people will eventually face compulsory redundancy in the New Year.

Other council plans announced include: closing the city's Tourist Information Cen-|tre handing over city parks and five remaining |leisure centres to trusts scrapping lollipop ladies/men | scrapping the Quaylink bus, and | asking disabled blue badge holders to pay |to park in council-owned multi-storey carparks.

The future of Sure Start services will be revealed by the council next week, however they have already said 27 jobs within Family Services will have to go.

Coun Forbes, said: "People told us in previous years that they would be willing to pay a little bit extra council tax to support services in their communities.

"We want to know whether people would be prepared to pay a little bit extra in order to protect some of the services that are currently under threat.

"I think people are realistic and people on the whole understand the financial pressures that the council is under."

Since 2010, the city council has accepted a deal from the Government, whereby they freeze council tax but in return get a grant to spend on services.

The Government has made much of their success of this deal and councils which have accepted the offer over five years are believed to have saved a Band D tax payer PS1,100.

However if Newcastle decides to push through a 2% rise, following consultation, it will be one of only a few authority's in the region to break-out of the grant cycle.

The council's financial plan for 2015 - 2016 goes out to public consultation today and includes a raft of job cuts within the nighttime noise response team, care services, school crossing patrol team, and service teams which have seen council functions moved online.

Around 12 front-line children's social care workers also face the axe.

Meals delivered to people's homes will go up from PS3 to PS4 as the council attempts to bring in revenue.

Coun Forbes said there were 'no easy choices' to make as the council faces its fifth year of austerity and a shrinking revenue support grant from Central Government. …

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