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North East councils worse hit than south, councillors claim
NORTH-EAST taxpayers are being unfairly punished by Government cuts while helping to subsidise southern authorities, a leading councillor has claimed.
Members of Durham County Council’s cabinet have launched a scathing attack on the cuts which will see the authority having to save almost £21m in 2013/14 and a total of £200m expected to have been lost between the coalition taking power in 2010 and 2017.
At the cabinet’s meeting in Crook Civic Centre, member for resources Alan Napier said the cuts are “wholly unfair” on the North-East.
Between 2013 and 2015 Durham County Council’s spending power is expected to be reduced by six per cent compared to a national average of 5.5 per cent, while the average for the 12 major North-East councils is 6.4 per cent.
Coun Napier said the North-East is not only being hit harder than the south but the region’s councils are also having their money sent to ailing authorities around London and the Home Counties.
Durham County Council gives £9.3m every year to the National Damping scheme which sees the invested money redistributed to struggling authorities.
Coun Napier said it is expected that the council will have to give that amount every year until 2020 meaning the council will have lost £65m since the scheme started.
Meanwhile Surrey County Council will receive £60m from the arrangement while, their spending power reduction is only 1.5 per cent.
Coun Napier said: “All of this is having a detrimental impact where we are the loser every time and the gain has been in more affluent areas.”
Durham County council leader Simon Henig said he had to accept cuts but accused the Government of using the reductions as a cover for redistributing money from northern counties to those in the south.
He said: “We would expect the reductions to be done fairly, the Government needs to change its approach.”
The council is still waiting for more information on several grants before final budgets for 2013/14 can be established next month.
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