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

December 3, 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

  • Comment Dismantling Britain’s despotism

    Dismantling Britain’s despotism

    The fictional town of Dunchester is the scene for a right-wing science-fiction novel by nineteenth century author H. Rider Haggard. It is also the site for a fantasy game used to recruit and train British civil servants. The Tory novel is about radicals trying to block experts and professionals from saving Dunchester from an epidemic of plague. The civil service game allows players to spend £20 million in regenerating a fake town with the same name. Players take the role […]

    Read more →
  • News Video “This is who we resent” – David Cameron lets slip what he actually thinks

    “This is who we resent” – David Cameron lets slip what he actually thinks

    Unfortunate Freudian slip for David Cameron during his Conference speech today: “This party is the trade union for children from the poorest estates and the most chaotic homes; this party is the union for the young woman who wants an apprenticeship; teenagers who want to make something of their lives – this is who we resent.”

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour must do more to be a technologically literate party

    Labour must do more to be a technologically literate party

    To know what was going on at the Labour Party Conference you consulted the very pretty and professional conference app. If you preferred things the old fashioned way, then you could look up fringe events and exhibitors in the thick booklet that was handed out.  However if you wanted to search a pdf copy of the booklet for a keyword, or lookup information on the web, then you were out of luck entirely. The stage at the Labour Party Conference […]

    Read more →
  • News Who is the mystery person paying for private polling on Cameron’s holiday plans?

    Who is the mystery person paying for private polling on Cameron’s holiday plans?

    Recently, I was sent some screenshots of an online survey – conducted over the summer – on unfolding events in the Middle East. It appeared to be an attempt to gauge how the British public felt about the government’s handling of ISIS, and what should happen next. There were questions on whether and how Britain should intervene, and on how different international institutions/world leaders (including the Prime Minister) were handling the crisis. One question in particular leapt out though, which […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour will tackle “diversity deficit” in business boardrooms

    Labour will tackle “diversity deficit” in business boardrooms

    Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary, will today announce plans to introduce legislation that requires businesses to release information on the racial make up of their workforce, in an effort to improve the number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in boardrooms. Building on reforms that would make similar requirements of companies about their gender diversity, today’s announcement comes after it was revealed that over half FTSE 100 companies have no non-white directors whatsoever. Umunna said: “At the top of […]

    Read more →
7ads6x98y