Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

75% Say Cuts Are Unfair on Region

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

75% Say Cuts Are Unfair on Region

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Proctor Local Government Reporter

AUSTERITY has ravaged council fi-nances, leaving many services with slashed budgets.

And now the public have given their verdict on how they feel the North East has fared in the most tumultuous economic era of recent times.

Around 75% of the 1,500 people who took part in the Chronicle's My Manifesto survey felt that the North East had not been treated fairly in the Government cutbacks since they began in 2010.

It comes as new TUC report Austerity Uncovered reveals how "a sledgehammer" has been taken to local government finances in the past five years.

On the 'fairness' of Government spending since the Coalition was formed, the results were the most clear-cut of any returned in the My Manifesto survey, with more people in agreement on this than any other issue. Just 6% felt the region had taken its justifiable 'share of pain' in reduced spending from central government.

Yet, interestingly, more than half of those surveyed said that austerity 'is working' and they didn't have a problem with the policy in principle, other than with its pace.

My Manifesto is the first time there has been such a comprehensive look at the public's feelings towards the Coalition's financial policies.

Every spring, while setting their own financial programme for the year, local political chiefs have lamented the disparity in spending between the North and South. Now the public have told us they feel the same.

And union boss Beth Farhat of the Northern TUC said its Austerity Uncovered report, developed in conjunction with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, is in tune with this belief. She says the future of local authority services in the North East is under threat from a growing financial crisis.

She said: "The report makes a number of recommendations on how to mitigate the impacts of austerity. These include a needs-based approach to funding settlements that take into account places with higher levels of social and economic deprivation and further devolution of resources and decision-making powers at the local level. …

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