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Government "targeting cuts at North-East councils"
FRESH evidence has emerged of the Government targeting cuts at North-East councils, as town hall bosses prepare to lobby ministers for a “fairer deal” in next month's local government settlement.
Figures produced by Newcastle City Council show several authorities in the region endured funding cuts of more than three times the national average following the Government's decision to slash budgets in 2010.
According to the research, Hartlepool and South Tyneside suffered cuts of more than £200 per person per year in total funding received from the Government, compared to an average national loss of £61.
Other authorities, including Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Redcar and Cleveland, saw cuts of more than £150 per person, while several North Yorkshire district authorities received funding cuts below the national average.
Mayor of Hartlepool, Coun Stuart Drummond said: “We've lost more than £200 per person in Hartlepool and they're expecting us to deliver the same services and more.
“At the same time they've tied our hands on the level of council tax we can collect - they're suffocating local government financially.”
Coun Drummond said further cuts in next month's local government settlement meant vital front-line services would have to be cut.
Next week, the Association of North East Councils will launch a campaign to urge the Government to limit further council cuts and spread the impact of any cuts more evenly across the country.
Coun Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “If cuts are taking place it's fair that everybody has to make reductions. What's not fair is that all councils in the North-East are taking some very large cuts, while the cuts in Dorset barely register.
“The question now is will it continue after the next funding statement in December or will we get a fairer statement?”
Labour say the majority of councils suffering the biggest losses are controlled by them, with northern councils in deprived areas suffering the worst.
However, Minister for Local Government, Brandon Lewis said: "Revenue spending figures show that there is no north south divide, and spending remains higher in more deprived areas.
"Labour were planning £52bn of cuts in their March 2010 budget, and they are being dishonest with the public by pretending that savings should not be made to the public sector."
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