A SENIOR churchman has written to the Chancellor decrying spending cuts hitting the region.

In a letter to George Osborne, the Very Reverend Chris Dalliston, the Dean of Newcastle, suggests the North-East will suffer disproportionate spending cuts as a result of the Autumn Statement and calls for greater fairness.

The Dean writes: “Week by week and day by day, I and my colleagues are encountering people here in the Cathedral or out in the wider community, who are living on benefits and who cannot, despite their best efforts, find employment.

Loading article content

“The services that support them are being cut, the benefits that sustain them are being cut, the jobs which they are being urged to take up simply do not exist.”

The clergyman says he appreciates the Chancellor’s “clarity” in outlining the predicament facing the nation and the need for all to share “painful cuts” to secure stability.

But he is “puzzled” Newcastle City Council is facing “huge reductions”, which will apparently be further exacerbated by the Autumn Statement.

He asks Mr Osborne to say whether he will ensure “greater fairness in the distribution of albeit scarce resources”.

The letter comes after a difficult year for relations between the Church and the Government.

However, David Cameron’s overtly religious Christmas message, in which he cited John’s Gospel, was viewed by some as a determination by the Prime Minister to be more public about his Christian faith.

In his Autumn Statement, Mr Osborne extended the austerity period to 2017-18 and cut council budgets by two per cent for 2014.

He said much of Europe was heading towards recession and pledged to do whatever it takes to protect Britain and keep interest rates low.