Cuts Watch #55: North East could be hardest hit by local government and transport cuts
The leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, has suggested that local authority budget cuts are already disproportionately hitting the north. This is because funding streams like Area Based Grants are focussed on need – i.e. deprived communities, of which the north has a relatively higher share.
In the north east £34m has gone from ABGs, plus it is expected that Working Neighbourhood Funds (which faced a £49.9m cut nationally) will not be replaced. These are resources which have been used to support economically excluded people back into work and are being removed at a time when the need is increasing.
The freeze in transport spending has also caused some alarm among local authorities, MPs and business leaders in the region. There is a large project underway to construct a second Tyne tunnel, due to open next year. As a direct result, Regional Funding Allocations were directed toward upgrading the A19, the most strategically important road in the region apart from the A1. £200m was allocated to A19 improvements, but these have been frozen, plus an additional £128m which was for a new Wear crossing in Sunderland. The lack of improvements to the rest of the A19 means that the benefits of the £280m invested in opening a second tunnel are completely undermined.
Business leaders and trade unions are encouraging Secretary of State for transport Philip Hammond to conclude his review of major schemes as quickly as possible and to recognise the economic and strategic necessity of the scheme.
Thanks to TUC Northern Regional Secretary Kevin Rowan