North councils to face £179m in cuts while some Southern authorities see rise in Government funding

Darlington and Stockton Times: Minister Brandon Lewis said it was a "good news day" for local government Minister Brandon Lewis said it was a "good news day" for local government

THE region has been hammered with a further £179m of council cuts – while many authorities in the South will enjoy a spending rise.

Town halls in the North-East and North Yorkshire will lose up to £1 in every £9 of their ‘spending power’ between 2014 and 2016, ministers announced yesterday (Wednesday, December 18).

Among the worst hit are Middlesbrough (down 11 per cent), Hartlepool (9.1 per cent), Sunderland (8.6 per cent), Redcar and Cleveland (7.1 per cent) and County Durham (6.3 per cent).

Yet, many councils in Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire will receive a spending boost over the two-year period, official figures show.

The average loss across England is 4.7 per cent – less than the financial blow about to strike almost all of this region’s councils.

The stark divide provoked angry clashes in the Commons, where Labour accused the Government of punishing the poorest areas with the largest cuts.

Hilary Benn, the party’s local government spokesman, said: “Why are the most disadvantaged communities once again being the hardest hit? How on earth can he justify that?”

The Tory-led Local Government Association (LGA) also warned the next two years will be “the toughest yet for people who rely on the vital everyday local services that councils provide”.

Simon Henig, Durham’s Labour leader, said the cuts in direct Government grants were even bigger – 11 per cent next year and 16 per cent in 2015-16.

He said: “This confirms our worst fears. We need to cut another £60m over two years, on top of approximately £120m already cut from our budgets.

“There is a sharp disparity between North and South, even in the government’s own spending power figures - some Southern councils see spending power going up!”

In the Commons, local government minister Brandon Lewis provoked astonishment when he told MPs: “This is a good news day for local government.”

But, Mr Lewis insisted: “We have tried to be fair to every part of the country - North and South, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire.”

And he told any council planning frontline cuts to stop “playing political games”, advising it should “be more efficient with its back office and look at how to use its reserves to invest for the future.”

The department for communities and local government (DCLG) said county councils in the shires had been given extra cash to meet rising social care costs.

However, the likes of Durham, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool - as unitary authorities - are also responsible for social care and faces similar challenges.

Town halls were again urged to freeze council tax next year, although they are not fully reimbursed by Whitehall for the cost of doing so.

And ministers hinted they may lower the threshold at which any proposed rise triggers a local referendum. At present, it stands at two per cent.

John Weighell, Conservative leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said its position remained “extremely challenging” – despite escaping the worst pain yesterday.

He said the authority would have to find a further £77m of cuts over the next four years, on top of £94m already identified.

Comments (11)

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12:46am Thu 19 Dec 13

Voice-of-reality says...

The south pays more tax - occassionally it should be rewarded for contributing more to the country's coffers. Of course, were the north to embrace fracking, prosperity would rise, council tax income would go up, benefit payments down and so on.
The south pays more tax - occassionally it should be rewarded for contributing more to the country's coffers. Of course, were the north to embrace fracking, prosperity would rise, council tax income would go up, benefit payments down and so on. Voice-of-reality

12:57am Thu 19 Dec 13

ledeanio says...

Time to claim independance?
Time to claim independance? ledeanio

6:25am Thu 19 Dec 13

darloboss says...

Voice-of-reality Sorry but we have been fracked for far too long what we need is a new government
Voice-of-reality Sorry but we have been fracked for far too long what we need is a new government darloboss

9:08am Thu 19 Dec 13

Thomas Atkins says...

Many years ago, a tv advert for beer came up with the following lines which seem to sum up our present government in general and the out of touch Mr Brandon Lewis in particular. They were: -
"There are three kinds of people in this world; there's them that know, there's them that don't know and there's them that don't know they don't know."
Seems to apply to the three main parties, doesn't it?
Many years ago, a tv advert for beer came up with the following lines which seem to sum up our present government in general and the out of touch Mr Brandon Lewis in particular. They were: - "There are three kinds of people in this world; there's them that know, there's them that don't know and there's them that don't know they don't know." Seems to apply to the three main parties, doesn't it? Thomas Atkins

9:52am Thu 19 Dec 13

David Lacey says...

Absolutely right VOR. The %age cuts are irrelevant - it is the absolute level of spend that matters. And in this context the North does much better than the south. And so it should!! Levels of deprivation are much higher here. However the inequality of spending between the North East and Scotland - courtesy of the Barnett Formula - is a national disgrace.
.
Why doesn't the Echo bang away about this? Because it might embarrass Labour I presume.
Absolutely right VOR. The %age cuts are irrelevant - it is the absolute level of spend that matters. And in this context the North does much better than the south. And so it should!! Levels of deprivation are much higher here. However the inequality of spending between the North East and Scotland - courtesy of the Barnett Formula - is a national disgrace. . Why doesn't the Echo bang away about this? Because it might embarrass Labour I presume. David Lacey

12:46pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Homshaw1 says...

Government cuts central funding and the council squanders what is available.

It's a joke. I really don't want to pay my taxes or council tax
Government cuts central funding and the council squanders what is available. It's a joke. I really don't want to pay my taxes or council tax Homshaw1

3:32pm Thu 19 Dec 13

gramps427 says...

Perhaps its time for the Local authorities to get together and challenge these rulings in court? This country has been run for the benefit of the Elite and the City of London money men for far too long; this has discriminated against the regions who were crippled by the loss of manufacturing from the 60's above and beyond what was common. Policies such as the Barnett Formula are breaching the human rights of people in this region and this is discrimination as the facts have consistently shown this region to be more in need than Scotland- especially as they have the power to raise tax in Scotland. Only problem that I see is that the Labour authorities around here will not take such a step as London would not approve; lets face it they had the opportunity to correct it while they were in power and chose not to.
Perhaps its time for the Local authorities to get together and challenge these rulings in court? This country has been run for the benefit of the Elite and the City of London money men for far too long; this has discriminated against the regions who were crippled by the loss of manufacturing from the 60's above and beyond what was common. Policies such as the Barnett Formula are breaching the human rights of people in this region and this is discrimination as the facts have consistently shown this region to be more in need than Scotland- especially as they have the power to raise tax in Scotland. Only problem that I see is that the Labour authorities around here will not take such a step as London would not approve; lets face it they had the opportunity to correct it while they were in power and chose not to. gramps427

7:23pm Thu 19 Dec 13

thetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth says...

ledeanio wrote:
Time to claim independance?
Thats nearly as ridiculous an idea as the Scots wanting their u dependence. The North would die a long slow death if it were independent from the South.

And the reason for the differences regarding cuts is because the Northern predominantly Labour led councils waste far more money and resources than the non labour southern councils. Labour are experts in frivolous waste and its about time they were put firmly in place.
[quote][p][bold]ledeanio[/bold] wrote: Time to claim independance?[/p][/quote]Thats nearly as ridiculous an idea as the Scots wanting their u dependence. The North would die a long slow death if it were independent from the South. And the reason for the differences regarding cuts is because the Northern predominantly Labour led councils waste far more money and resources than the non labour southern councils. Labour are experts in frivolous waste and its about time they were put firmly in place. thetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth

10:11pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Border Terrier says...

The Tories could not give a toss about the North East. Utterly expendable. They will not spend money up here as they know very few vote for them.
The Tories could not give a toss about the North East. Utterly expendable. They will not spend money up here as they know very few vote for them. Border Terrier

1:04pm Fri 20 Dec 13

VictorKasulesCarKeys.. says...

Take transport for instance, in that there London, they get £2500 per head, compared to £5 up here...............
Take transport for instance, in that there London, they get £2500 per head, compared to £5 up here............... VictorKasulesCarKeys..

8:24pm Fri 20 Dec 13

peter laidler says...

To be frank I cant see what all this fuss is about. Under Durham County Councils strategic plan our region shall be led out of the darkness in to the light. Thousands of new homes are to be built, greenbelt concerns will be pushed aside, new infrastructure will be laid down, all to accommodate the thousands of new jobs they are going to attract. Give them a few years and we and the South will be on an equal par. The Council hath spoken
To be frank I cant see what all this fuss is about. Under Durham County Councils strategic plan our region shall be led out of the darkness in to the light. Thousands of new homes are to be built, greenbelt concerns will be pushed aside, new infrastructure will be laid down, all to accommodate the thousands of new jobs they are going to attract. Give them a few years and we and the South will be on an equal par. The Council hath spoken peter laidler

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