The Government’s approach to Local Government is a tale of two nations

3rd December, 2012 9:50 am
Like many other Councils Newcastle receives the majority of its money from Central Government. The Coalition has cut Newcastle’s budget by more than almost all other councils in the country and by more than double the national average. If the Government cut to the Council’s budget was in line with the national average the Council would have £22m extra to spend in the financial year 2013-14 alone, which would protect almost all services at risk. However, we now have to cut £90m over the next three years, this is over a third of our £266m budget.
The result is that Newcastle City Council has to cut more services than almost any other council in the country as a direct result of Government decisions. We have published our budget proposals and libraries, leisure centres, respite care, social care and street sweeping are at risk.
‘Heat maps’ produced by our Director of Finance show which areas of the country have been hardest hit. It is Labour areas, with Hackney and Liverpool Councils facing cuts of over £260 per person, compared to just £2.70 in Dorset. The Government claim that this is ‘fair’ because Councils like Newcastle get more money than some councils in the South. That is not a measure of fairness that I have ever recognised. I believe that at the heart of public service is need, and that people receive services according to need. You don’t expect to go into hospital and get the same amount of treatment if you’d had a heart attack as if you had broken a finger.
In part due to the Coalition’s economic policy we are seeing an increase in children taken into care. At the same time the Government has cut funding for children’s social care by 43%. That is a scandal and nothing other than a dereliction of duty on the part of this Government. It is local councils that pick up that duty and the cost is felt through the closure of other services such as libraries. This pattern is repeated time and again, with the new homes bonus and the new public health formula redistributing money from poorer areas to areas already better off, from Labour areas to Conservative ones. The Audit Commission has published research showing that the areas with greatest need have had the greatest cuts.
Public services should be about narrowing the gap, giving people chances that others take for granted, and supporting people in times of crisis. Those principles are being eroded by this Government and they are again abandoning people and places they have abandoned in the past. Where Labour is talking of one nation, this Tory led government is actively creating a nation divided.
Nick Forbes is the Leader of Newcastle City Council

Latest

  • News Scotland Sturgeon gives backing to abusive Twitter troll candidate

    Sturgeon gives backing to abusive Twitter troll candidate

    Nicola Sturgeon has given her backing to the SNP candidate who until earlier this month was using an anonymous Twitter account to hurl abuse at pro-UK campaigners. The SNP leader came under pressure last week to suspend Neil Hay, the candidate for Edinburgh South, after it became clear he taken on an online pseudonym to mock pensioners and compare No vote supporters to Nazi collaborators. After a newspaper brought the account to the attention of the SNP, Hay deleted it […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Remembering the dead, fighting for the living

    Remembering the dead, fighting for the living

    Today millions around the world will stand to ‘Remember the dead and fight for the living’ at events, demonstrations and vigils held to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD). This annual commemoration for all those who have been killed, disabled, injured or made ill as a result of accidents at work or occupational disease, is also an important opportunity to highlight the tireless efforts of groups and individuals who are fighting to improve health and safety at work and to protect […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The return of foreign policy

    The return of foreign policy

    By Mike Buckley and Joe Walker  Amidst the noise this election campaign has highlighted some important differences between the two main parties. Over the last week Ed Miliband has given keynote speeches on foreign policy and international development, renewing Labour’s commitment to active foreign and international development policies. In contrast the Tories have said little, preferring to stick to a myopic focus on the deficit and the economy. Yet the next government will face some of the most important foreign […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland Jeez, the man is desperate

    Jeez, the man is desperate

    When Bob Hawke was fighting his first General Election in Australia, the then Conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser claimed that if Labor was elected voters would have to “keep their money under the bed”. Hawke’s caustic response was: “You can’t do that because that’s where we’re hiding the commies – Jeez the man is desperate”. That desperation has clearly gripped Cameron, Crosby, Sturgeon and the Murdoch press – with their wild claims that the SNP will dominate the next Labour government, […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Workers Memorial Day: Labour promise action, not words, to protect workers’ lives

    Workers Memorial Day: Labour promise action, not words, to protect workers’ lives

    This article is written by Stephen Timms and Kate Green  Workers Memorial Day provides a poignant opportunity to reflect on the risks faced by working people at home and abroad. It is a time to remember those who have paid the ultimate price simply through carrying out their duties at work. Workers Memorial Day also reminds us of our need to commit to ensure that workers health and safety is protected and strengthened in the years ahead. Labour is not […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit