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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Tynedale: Labour fears Government cuts will slash county budget by 23pc

MORE Government cuts will slash almost a quarter out of Northumberland County Council’s budget by the next General Election, according to an influential independent watchdog.

Although the Government has claimed the cut is only 2.9 per cent, the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA) has suggested the true cost over the next two years will in fact be 23 per cent.

Labour councillors have slammed what they have branded a shameless trick by the Government.

CIPFA’s respected journal Public Finance has revealed the true cost of the Tory-led Government cut as 9.54 per cent this year, with even deeper cuts planned by the coalition Government in the run up to the General Election in 2015 with a 13.17 per cent raid on county finances.

Council leader Coun. Grant Davey said: “The cat is out of the bag as the Tory-led Government’s latest announcement has been described as ‘more spin than substance’ by the independent CIPFA.

“Not only will Northumberland residents have to deal with a reduction in £259 in services this year, but they face 23 per cent cuts over the next two years.

“Local services are increasingly stretched and residents will note the silence of the county’s two coalition MPs and Tory and Lib Dem councillors on the county council on the scale of their Government cuts.

“Residents have a right to expect that local politicians will stand up for their area, yet Northumberland’s Tories and Lib Dems choose to stay silent and attack Labour’s attempts to tackle the terrible legacy of a Lib Dem/Tory coalition at County Hall.”

Meanwhile, the largest union in Northumberland, Unison, has flagged up its ‘grave concerns’ over the potential impact of Northumberland’s £130m budget cuts over the next five years.

The Labour-led administration at County Hall has already announced initial plans to cut £32m in year one in its first budget, and Unison is calling for closer discussions to ensure that services are protected.

As well as consulting with its own members, the union also pledged to encourage all community groups, tenants association etc, and all service users, to contribute to the budget consultation

Unison’s joint branch secretary Ian Fleming said: “We will be pressing the administration to live up to promises to protect front line services and to make sure that any reorganisation takes into account the needs of service users and employees who deliver those services.

“This Tory-led Government has signalled it doesn’t value the public sector and public sector workers and, while we applaud the Labour council’s decision not to ‘outsource’ services, we believe that our members have a right to expect that they will be supported in delivering excellent public services in the county.”

He pledged that the union would work tirelessly to mitigate and avoid cuts to vital services.

He said: “We have to challenge the ‘big lie’ that the country is broke and the only way to save money is to ‘flog off’ our public services on the cheap to the private sector. It’s not.”

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