Cuts expected as council has to save extra £12m

Quadrant, North Tyneside Council at Cobalt Business Park, North Tyneside.'REF 2602156909

Quadrant, North Tyneside Council at Cobalt Business Park, North Tyneside.'REF 2602156909

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Council leaders have warned that cuts will have to be made as they look to find up to an additional £12m in savings.

North Tyneside Council had been budgeting to make savings of £44m over the next three years.

We’re going to have to make cuts to make the council viable

Mayor Norma Redfearn

But following the Government’s summer budget, the authority will now need to find between £53m and £56m of savings – on top of £43m the council has achieved in efficiencies from 2013 to 2016.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss the changes, Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “We keep talking about efficiencies but when you get down to it, it’s not efficiencies. We’re going to have to make cuts to make the council viable.”

Among the biggest impact on residents will be those affected by housing and benefit changes.

And the council is looking at a loss of more than £400m over the next 30 years following a reduction in social housing rents.

Coun John Harrison, cabinet member for housing, said this would have a devastating impact and make it harder for the council to maintain its housing stock at a decent homes level.

He said: “People will see it as a reduction in their rent but that has an impact on our income, which affects our ability to deliver.

“Our plan to build 3,000 more affordable homes is under severe pressure.

“This is the only income we get to maintain our homes.”

The authority will also need to find an additional £3m to £5m to cover the introduction of the National Living Wage of £7.20 from April 2016.

Deputy mayor Coun Bruce Pickard dismissed concerns that projects such as the regeneration of Whitley Bay seafront or development of the former Swan Hunter site would be impacted by the savings.

He said: “Our economic development and regeneration plans come from the capital budget, that has been built into a five year plan, with the vast majority of the funding coming from grants. Work will still continue.”

Mrs Redfearn added: “As an authority we are financially well managed and have a planned approach to enable us to create a brighter future for our residents and the borough.

“We’ve delivered significant changes to protect services, including reduced management costs, greater partnership working to pool resources and achieve efficiencies, and attracting external funding.

“However, these announcements look set to mean at least a further £9m efficiencies are added to the significant challenges we are already facing.

“That means we have some really tough choices and some really difficult big decisions to make in the forthcoming budget setting process.”