Council Tax Bill
Council Tax Bill

Northumberland’s Labour Group is dismayed to see yet another cut in the council’s budget with two more years of cuts to follow.

The budget and medium term financial plan was presented to the council’s cabinet this week (10 November) and, once again, it means difficult decisions will have to be taken to provide the savings required.

Labour Group leader Susan Dungworth said: “Yet again the government is expecting local councils to do more with less. A decade of cuts to local government and the public sector have impacted on our services and ground down our hard working staff both in the council and partner organisations.

“In 2021-2022, this means savings of £8.3m with the disturbing figures of 19.8m and £15.3m savings in the following two years. Successive council leaders have had to grapple with these unreasonable levels of cuts and now, as we see child poverty and unemployment in our county rising, it is hard to see how these cuts can be made without harming some of the most vulnerable people we serve.

“The highest areas of savings are in adults, wellbeing and health services, who are expected to make a staggering £3.2m of savings in a single year. We know that money spent in this area is money well spent because it prevents people having greater needs later on and enables them to live fulfilling and independent lives.

“Another £1.4m is being taken out of children’s services at a time when vulnerable young people need it most. We know that a good start in life is essential for future health and wellbeing and yet we are seeing inequalities increase both in education and the wider community.

“The Conservatives won the election last December with the slogan ‘levelling up’, acknowledging the North East had been left behind. When Covid arrived, they declared that they would spend ‘whatever it takes.’  Reports this week confirm that the North East has been hit the hardest by the pandemic.  This budget does nothing to honour their promises or redress the balance.

“We are disappointed by the response of the leader of the council. We can only hope that, behind the brave public face he is putting on, he is making representations to his government to tell them this relentless cutting of budgets simply cannot go on any longer.

“We very much hope that everyone in the county responds to the consultation on the budget which starts on 10 December and lasts for six weeks. We shall certainly be making representations to the council leaders.

“We would encourage everyone to join in this conversation about the county’s financial future. It’s vital that everyone’s voice is heard.”

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