Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Council Cabinet Agrees to Package of Deep Cutbacks

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Council Cabinet Agrees to Package of Deep Cutbacks

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty Crime Reporter

COUNCIL cuts which will see hundreds of jobs lost, dementia care slashed and council tax hiked have taken another step towards reality.

Newcastle City Council's cabinet has agreed a proposed package of cutbacks, which will save PS32m from its next budget, and will go before the full council next month.

The authority needs to make the savings to cope with another reduction in funding from central Government.

And leader Nick Forbes told members they are being forced to make some painful decisions to balance the books.

He said: "Local government has, for the last six years, faced the steepest cuts for any part of the public sector.

"In Newcastle, we have constantly raised concerns about the cuts we face being deeper than other local authorities that have presented us with some extraordinarily diffi-cult and challenging decisions and this year's budget is no exception. "It forces us to consider things we wouldn't want to do but the council has no choice but to set a legal budget.

"There are things that none of us would have come into politics to put forward as proposals."

The proposed package includes: | Cutting the opening hours of nine libraries from 400 hours a week to 181 hours; | A 3.9% rise in taxes for residents, made up of a 1.9% increase in council tax and a 2% rise to fund the adult social care budget - which is projected to have a PS15m shortfall in funding from central Government ; | The closure of the 20-bed Byker Lodge dementia care centre; | The loss of around 240 jobs.

The latest round of cuts come after five years of reduced income which has so far seen PS191m taken from the city's coffers.

Coun Forbes said Newcastle had been hit harder than many other local authorities and that even though the Government has managed to find PS300m to offset council cuts nationally, 85% of that money has gone to Conservative controlled councils, with Tyneside not receiving a penny.

He said: "This Government is deliberately dismantling the public services behind which this country has united for generations. …

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