Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Plots PS64m Cuts over the Next Four Years

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Plots PS64m Cuts over the Next Four Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan O'Donoghue Local Government Reporter

AWAVE of cuts hitting all ages, genders and the disabled is on its way to County Durham. Durham County Council has revealed were the axe might fall as the authority struggles to make further savings of PS64m by 2020.

The medium-term financial plan published by the council yesterday identifies around PS29m of savings for next year.

Children come out as one of the worst hit groups in the latest round of cuts - as the council identified more than PS5m which could be sucked from services for the under-16s.

Council leader Simon Henig said the reason for "big numbers" on children and adult services was because they formed the largest spending areas of the council - some 62%.

Around PS7m of savings was also identified through job cuts and a restructure of the council.

If implemented hundreds more jobs will go, street lighting will continue to be reduced, library and museum staffing levels trimmed and building and grounds maintenance budgets slashed.

Deputy leader Alan Napier told cabinet the plan kept the authority away from the "financial cliff."

He said: "This has been developed in the context of extremely challenging times for local government and the public sector more generally as a result of the ideological and politically-motivated sustained attack on the public sector by the current Government.

"These pressures may be further be exacerbated post Brexit. Our county and the region have at least three more years of austerity to come, making it a decade of austerity."

Coun Napier highlighted the use of PS8.2m from the council's PS28m reserves to soften the blow.

The total reductions across the period 2011 to 2020 for Durham County Council will be PS245m.

Council leader Simon Henig said: "We have already made by the end of this financial year PS180m of savings.

"We now face another PS60m plus with three years of further cuts taking us up to a decade of unprecedented austerity.

"These cuts are not getting more easy, they are getting more difficult. We have already lost 2,000 posts at county council and this will approach 2500 by 2017, yet we must continue to find further reductions. …

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