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Redcar’s Labour Cabinet Member for Resources highlights the unfair nature of Government cuts to his Council

Redcar_and_Cleveland_Borough_CouncilRedcar’s Labour Cabinet Member for Resources highlights the unfair nature of Government cuts to his Council:

Redcar and Cleveland’s Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor Christopher Massey, gave his report to full council of Redcar and Cleveland on 19 November 2015, which outlined the state of the Council’s finances. The Report highlighted the difficulties facing the Council in the coming years due to the reduction in Government grants to the authority. Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has been forced to cut £53 million pounds from its annual budget over the last five financial years due to the unfair policies of first a Conservative/Liberal Democrat and now a Conservative Government.  This figure has inevitably led to the loss of over 1,000 Council staff, although thankfully with few compulsory redundancies.

Christopher said “These cuts in local authority support have been felt disproportionately by Northern councils, particularly those on Teesside. It is anticipated that the £27m grant Redcar currently receive from central Government (which helps to deliver a range of service that our residents rely upon and value) will reduce to zero by the end of this decade. 

Whilst wealthy, often Conservative led, councils in the South of England have seen practically no cuts to their overall budgets, Redcar and Cleveland and many other deprived Northern councils have seen a staggering reduction in their revenue support grant. The Independent reported in 2015 that this Conservative Government was reducing the spending power of local authorities in the most deprived areas of the country by an average of £275.69 a head, whereas in the most affluent areas this average cut was only £23.19. 

Owing to prudent financial management of the authority, Redcar council has been able to mitigate some of the worst impacts of these £53 million of cuts, but the challenge ahead is perhaps even more difficult. Whilst, in the first years of austerity the Council were successful in finding efficiency savings without impacting too heavily on front-line services, or the Council’s workforce, in recent years the Government cuts have impacted on the Council’s staff and services. Moreover, in the next financial year, due to the impact Government cuts and of the SSI closure and the resultant fall in the Council’s business rate collection, the authority will have to find a further £11 million from the budget. 

Despite the savage cuts to our central budget, Redcar and Cleveland’s Labour Group is committed to delivering a Council Tax freeze next April for our residents who have also been hit particularly hard by the Government’s austerity policies and by the closure of local industries.

The Council is awaiting the Conservative Chancellor’s autumn statement announcement next week, which we fear will see the announcement of a further 25-40 per cent of cuts to local authority budgets. Over the financial period 2017/18 to 2019/20, the Council anticipates having to cut at least a further £22m from the budget due to the austerity measures of this Conservative Government.Obviously, these swingeing cuts to the Council’s budget could have an impact on the services our residents expect. 

However, Redcar and Cleveland’s Labour Group has always been committed to mitigating the impact of the Conservative Government’s cuts in the Borough wherever possible including minimising the number of compulsory redundancies and cuts to front-line services, and the Labour Group continue to lobby Government for a fairer funding system for our Council and our residents.”

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