More than £150m reduction in Government funding of Tees Valley councils since 2010/11

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Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)

ABOUT £150m has been taken out of the Tees Valley economy in the last four years due to Government cut backs to council budgets, The Northern Echo has learned.

The worst hit council is Middlesbrough where there has been an estimated reduction of £50m in Government funding from 2010/11 to 2013/14.

Stockton has lost £31m and Redcar and Cleveland £22m. No exact figures were available for Hartlepool or Darlington, but they were about £22m and £23m respectively.

Middlesbrough has been the worst hit because it lost special grants for severe social deprivation.

Labour politicians lined up to condemn the Government but James Wharton, the area’s only Conservative MP, said Labour councils had turned down millions of pounds of extra funding by not freezing council tax.

Newly elected Labour MP for Middlesbrough, Andy McDonald criticised the Government for cutting “too far, too quickly”.

He said: “It’s grossly unfair. It’s not out of necessity but is ideologically driven.

"To say ‘we’re all in this together’ is a joke. This line that, ‘it’s all the last Government’s fault’ is running out of steam.

"The Government is actually missing its own targets now because these cuts are too deep and not leaving space for growth. ”

Leader of Darlington Borough Council Bill Dixon said the reduction was between £23m and £24m.

He said: “We’re losing vital services while some councils down south are actually having their Government precept going up slightly.”

Bob Cook, Labour Leader of Stockton Council said: “We do not want to cut services but we are forced to because of Government cuts. We estimate a further £20m reduction in government funding by 2016/17.”

However James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, said: “If you look at it over the period the cut is actually less than 10 per cent a year. Some of our Labour-led councils, like Stockton, have been offered extra money to freeze council tax, but turned that down for ideological reasons.”

Middlesbrough's budget has been reduced by £72m overall but that includes all funding streams. MP Andy McDonald said the reduction from the Government was about £50m.

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