Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

FOR Eight Years, Local Councils [...]

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

FOR Eight Years, Local Councils [...]

Article excerpt

Byline: IAIN MALCOLM

FOR eight years, local councils have borne the brunt of austerity.

We have had no choice in the matter because, unlike other public bodies, we cannot run a deficit and must balance the books. As central government cuts continue to bite, what we really need is fairer funding.

We have been promised a review into this for years, and it will now not be complete to take effect from 2020/21 at the earliest.

The impact of austerity cannot be overstated. In South Tyneside, due to crippling government cuts, each household is PS746 worse off than they were in 2010. That is PS746 less for us to spend on delivering vital services and a staggering PS404 greater cut than the national average across councils.

The system is failing, not only the vulnerable in our communities, but every individual in our region. Every single household is feeling the brunt of government cuts and a lack of funding.

Where we have been able to protect budgets we have seen a positive impact. Our recent Ofsted of Children's Services is testament to that. But the stark reality is that we can't protect all services and some of the decisions we are forced to make are becoming increasingly unpalatable In South Tyneside and across the region we have been working together with the community to protect facilities and services such as community centres and libraries. Our communities have stepped up to the plate but there's only so much goodwill that we can rely on.

We have now lost over half of our government grant since 2010. Research by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has confirmed that South Tyneside is the third hardest hit council financially in the country for the period 2010 to 2016, but despite all of this we continue to deliver.

North East councils are still ambitious, we still work hard to boost the economy, create jobs and provide the vital services that our residents need.

But one thing that we all need is a fairer funding system that fully recognises need.

Across South Tyneside, physical improvements are changing our town centres and neighbourhoods for the better. The Council's investment at Hebburn Central is now attracting private sector investment. …

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