Sunday, 03 January 2016 22:44

Cutbacks are 'attack' on rural areas

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Cutbacks are 'attack' on rural areas

The leader of one of England's most rural councils has accused the government of trying to decimate local authorities.

Northumberland County Council leader Grant Davey said the government's latest financial settlement would see the local authority's main grant slashed by 80% by 2019/20.

The council's core funding from central government would be reduced from £57m this financial year to £11.29m by 2019/20 – compared to £90.5m in 2013/14, he said.

    See also: Government increases rural grant

The council had already seen its budget cut by £160m since 2009, said Mr Davey. Further cuts of £44m in revenue would be implemented this year and next, he added.

The government announced its latest financial settlement last month.

Mr Davey said it dealt Northumberland the largest cut among its north-east combined authority colleagues which has an average of 69% and against a national average of 75%.

"The government seems determined to decimate local government," he said.

"In this latest settlement we are seeing a staggering 80% cut to our central government funding over the next five years – it's unbelievable and another attack on rural areas."

Mr Davey said the government was expecting local authorities to make up the shortfall from council tax and business rates.

"Yet again local government has taken the bulk of the hit in the government's cuts," he said. "This can't go on."

As a result of the cuts, Northumberland was consulting on closing a fire station. It had already cut post-16 school transport as well as its subsidised bus routes.

"These are not things we want to do, but we have been given no other choice by this government."

Mr Davey said the local authority was doing its best to protect frontline services such as libraries and tourist information centres by co-locating them with other council services.

But he warned: "There will soon be nothing left to cut. We are reaching the tipping point now where even the most vital and statutory services will be hit."

Northumberland had also reduced grass cutting, increased charges for some DIY waste and reviewed the provision of public toilets.

Further cuts had seen the council reduce its workforce by a fifth since 2010 – shedding the equivalent of 843 full time jobs, said Mr Davey.

  • No comments found

Leave your comments

0 / 500 Character restriction
Your text should be in between 10-500 characters
terms and condition.