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Fight for a fair future for Newcastle

November 29, 2012

It is time to come together to fight for a fair future for Newcastle.

People across the city are realising that the cuts we are being forced to make will dramatically affect the services they enjoy, the lives they live and the jobs they do.

The bottom line is that the majority of our budget comes from Government, so when it cuts council funding, we have to cut services. We’ve lost out badly, if our cuts were in line with the national average we’d have an extra £22m to spend.

That wouldn’t solve all our problems, but it would save a whole range of services currently at risk.

Since our proposals were published there’s been shock and now there is growing anger. Anger that the council I lead can no longer afford to play the same role in our civic life.

I share those frustrations. I do not want to be doing many of the things I’m doing now. It goes against all my political instincts to cut public services.

One thing has become really clear to me over the past few weeks is that people will argue passionately about an element of the budget they want to see protected. However, cutting less of something means cutting more of something else.

The fundamental problem is that we have had a budget cut from Government of £162 per person in Newcastle against councils in the south who have had a cut of only £2.70.

Each of us arguing to save a particular part of the budget is to miss the bigger picture and will create a divided city. The scope of the feedback already shows one thing, everything is being affected and no one service or service area has been singled out. Remember we are having to cut £90m, which is over a third of our budget.

I understand that people are angry, and I am too, but if possible I’d like us all to find some common ground and take the fight to where the funding decisions are ultimately made, number 10 Downing Street.

I have made that case to the Prime Minister that the Government is cutting too far and too fast.

We have set out a three year budget for the city, despite only being required to publish a budget from year to year. While this makes our cuts look deeper and more harsh than elsewhere, we believe it is the most responsible thing to do.

It gives people time to plan alternatives and work to find different solutions. I believe our proposals are just the beginning of what will emerge nationally over the coming months. We might be the first but we won’t be the last. Similar proposals will be published by other councils until the Government changes its approach to funding local government.

We need your views. Please get involved in the discussion at You don’t have to register to complete the quick survey.

And after you’ve done that, think hard about where these cuts are coming from and join with us in lobbying against this unfair funding settlement.

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