Tagged: George Osborne

Emergency NHS cash diverted south with most areas of North-East receiving just 0.24% of £2bn fund

Emergency cash for the troubled NHS has been diverted away from the region to areas mainly in the South, a new analysis shows.

Health chiefs in the North-East and North Yorkshire have been handed tiny increases in their budgets from the £2bn fund – most receiving just 0.24 per cent more.

In stark contrast, other areas – mainly in London and the South-East – have been given funding boosts of more than 3.5 per cent, for the 2015-16 financial year.

NHS England argues the extra cash is going to areas which are currently underfunded and which have “the greatest health needs, where the population is growing rapidly”.

But the decision has been fiercely criticised by Nick Brown, Labour MP for Newcastle East, who campaigned against a previous attempt to shift health cash from North to South.

Mr Brown said:

“This is highly political. Extra money is being found for Tory-voting parts of the country at the expense of the rest of us. The allocation formulas have been twisted to bring this outcome about.

“Those who die too young are the losers. The big winners are the geographic areas where people enjoy a long-lived, healthy and comfortable retirement.”

Tom Blenkinsop, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, said:

“This is yet another clear sign that this Government is consciously and deliberately redistributing funds from our area to Tory political priorities in the south of the country.”

The Northern Echo:

The issue of CCG funding has also drawn criticism from local Conservative MPs, including Vale of York’s Julian Sturdy who told ministers of a “postcode lottery” in a debate last week, saying: “Why does Vale of York CCG, in particular, receive such a poor allocation?

 The analysis, by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), found the biggest increases had gone to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in areas with Conservative and, to a lesser extent, Liberal Democrat MPs.

There are 53 CCGs receiving rises of between three and four per cent – covering areas where no fewer than 85 per cent of MPs are from the two Coalition parties.

Furthermore, some – unnamed – CCGs have been forced to revise their plans from April because they are now receiving less money than expected, the HSJ said.

The allocations – slipped out by NHS England late on the Friday before Christmas – divide up the £1.1bn of the £2bn which has been given to CCGs, which ‘buy’ treatments.

Announcing the £2bn injection in November, amid growing talk of an NHS “crisis”, George Osborne said it would “support the day-to-day work of our incredible nurses and doctors”.

But 11 of the 14 CCGs in this region will receive just 0.24 per cent extra, worth just £400,000 to Darlington, for example – and none will get more than 1.99 per cent.

Ten CCGs are gaining 3.7 per cent or more, including in Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead, Bedfordshire, Bromley, in Kent, and in Slough.

The list is topped by East Staffordshire, which gets a 4.28 per cent increase – an extra £5.8m, for 2015-16.

The row has echoes of the controversy in both 2012 and 2013, when NHS England first attempted a big shift in spending from poorer areas to those with more pensioners.

It was forced to back down after protests that the “fair shares formula” would slash up to £170m of funding from CCGs in the North-East and North Yorkshire

This time, every area is receiving a rise of at least 1.7 per cent from April, but half the extra £1.1bn will go to just 54 of the 211 CCGs.

Announcing its decision, NHS England said:

“Every CCG will get real terms budget increase.

“More of the extra funding for local health services is being used to more rapidly increase NHS budgets for those parts of the country with the greatest health needs, where the population is growing rapidly, and where services are under greatest pressure.”

NHS England is independent of the Department of Health, which means its spending decisions are no longer announced to parliament, nor scrutinised by MPs.

Source –  Northern Echo, 13 Jan 2015

£250m: What Durham council must cut by 2019

The North-East’s biggest council expects to have to cut its spending by more than quarter of a billion pounds by 2019, it announced today (Tuesday, January 6).

Financial experts at Durham County Council have been frantically crunching the numbers since Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement and the Government announced its local government funding settlement for 2015-16 in December.

While the budget reductions announced by the Chancellor were widely predicted, the extension of austerity means by 2019 central government grants to Durham will have fallen by 60 per cent since 2011 and the cuts total will have topped £250m.

The Labour-led council also had to cut £18m following the Coalition’s emergency budget in late 2010.

Previously, council leader Simon Henig claimed another Tory-led government would mean “the end of local council services as we recognise them”.

Today (Tuesday, January 6), he said the authority was “largely on track” to deliver the required savings, but added: “There is no doubt that facing these continued cuts we will no longer be able to protect frontline services.”

The council is expected to cut £16.2m and spend £10m of its reserves in the year from April and the budget will be top of the agenda when the cabinet meets in Durham Town Hall next Wednesday (January 11).

A council tax hike of two per cent, the biggest allowed without a local referendum, is expected in the 2015-16 budget, which will be finally agreed in February.

The council’s opposition groups are expected to announce alternative proposals shortly.

Northern town halls are furious that poorer areas are being hit hardest by austerity.

While December’s funding settlement saw councils lose an average 1.8 per cent of their spending power across the country, Durham was down 2.7 per cent, Newcastle by 4.9 per cent and Middlesbrough by 5.6 per cent.

In contrast, Surrey’s spending power grew by 3.1 per cent. North Yorkshire will gain 1.1 per cent.

Durham expects to have cut £136.9m from its spending by April, leaving £88.5m-worth of savings still to find by 2018.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins said the Coalition had been vindicated, because councils were still delivering good quality services with a reduced amount of money.

> There’s Tory thinking for you… and if you continue to cope, they’ll cut funding further because obviously you don’t need it.

If you don’t cope, they’ll cut funding anyway, because you’re in the North and don’t vote Tory, unlike Surrey and North Yorkshire.

Source – Durham Times,  06 Jan 2015

Tories VAT Hike Costs Struggling Families £450 A Year

New figures reveal that families with children have paid an average £1,800 more in tax, as a direct result of the government’s VAT hike.

David Cameron and the Tory-led coalition government increased the rate of VAT from 17.5% to 20% in 2011. A move which has had a devastating impact on low-income families, many still struggling to cope with rising energy prices, cuts in welfare benefits and years of below inflation wage rises – a real-terms cut in income.

VAT can be charged on a number of different items including food, adult clothes, gadgets and household appliances – among others.

Items such as gas and electricity for the domestic home is usually charged at what is known as the ‘discount rate’. Some other items are ‘zero rated’ or ‘VAT free‘: such as baby wear, children’s clothing, children’s footwear and newspapers.

However, treasury figures analysed by Labour reveal how the 2.5% hike in VAT costs a couple with children £450 a year on average. This means that over the course of this parliament hard-up families have paid a total of £1,800 more in tax under David Cameron.

Food bank charity Trussell Trust helped to feed more than 913,000 people with three days worth of emergency food aid in 2013, including 330,205 children – up from 40,898 in 2009/10.

The second most common reason given for turning to food banks is ‘low income’ (20.29%), while benefit delays are cited as the primary reason (30.93%).

Labour said the Tories have gifted the top one percent of earners with tax cuts, “while everyone else faces a cost-of-living crisis”.

Shabana Mahmood MP, Labour’s Shadow Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“Before the last election David Cameron and George Osborne said they had no plans to raise VAT, but that’s exactly what they did after they got in.

“Raising VAT on families and pensioners is what Tory governments always do”, she said.

> And everyone who isn’t part of a family or a pensioner too – please lets be inclusive about this . We all pay VAT.

“These figures show that over the last four years a family with children has paid £1800 more in higher VAT under the Tories.”

She added:

“The truth is that the only people who have got a big tax cut under this Government are those earning over £150,000.

“And while everyone else faces a cost-of-living crisis, the Tories have refused to rule out another VAT rise in the next Parliament to pay for their £7 billion of unfunded tax promises.”

Shabana Mahmood said a Labour government would “balance the books in a fairer way”.

Adding: “We’ll cut taxes for 24 million people through a lower 10p starting rate of tax, freeze energy bills, cut business rates and expand free childcare for working parents.

Labour would also reverse “David Cameron’s £3 billion a year tax cut for the top one per cent of earners.”

Sourece –  Welfare Weekly, 04 Jan 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/tories-vat-hike-costs-struggling-families-450-year/

Austerity Cuts Will Bite Even Harder In 2015 – Another £12bn Will Go

This article  was written by Amelia Gentleman, for The Guardian on Thursday 1st January 2015

George Osborne says the coverage of looming new spending cuts has been “hyperbolic”, but away from Downing Street there is a strong consensus that the cumulative effect of five years of austerity will make the next wave of cuts, in 2015, very painful.

Four more years of austerity is “a price that works for our country”, Osborne said as he outlined his strategy. The Institute for Fiscal Studies responded by warning that “colossal” cuts to the state would take total government spending to its lowest level as a proportion of national income since before the second world war. By the end of the process, “the role and shape of the state will have changed beyond recognition”, the think tank said. So far, £35bn has been cut; the plan is to cut a further £55bn by 2019.

 > But that’s the plan, isn’t it ? To change the role and shape of the state beyond recognition ? A state where old Etonians rule by right and the poor get trampled into the ground ?

If the chancellor remains in post after the general election, Britain will find itself halfway through a nine-year stretch of spending cuts, with the Conservatives determined to shrink and redefine the role of the state. The Liberal Democrats say the Conservative policy is aimed at creating “a smaller state, with many more cuts to come”, giving Britain “austerity for ever”; 2015 will be a pivotal year in the race to reshape the nature of the state.

> Would that be the same Liberal Democrats who are part of the  coalition that is making these changes to society ? Sorry, Lib Dems, don’t start wringing your hands now – you won’t get rid of the blood on them that way.

Even if they lose, difficult spending cuts look inevitable. Labour is also committed to ending the deficit, in 2017-18, provided the state of the economy allows it.

Protesters demonstrate against the bedroom tax.
Protesters demonstrate against the bedroom tax. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

For many publicly funded services and organisations, 2015 will be the year when their chances of survival become clear. There is an enormous range in the size and the function of services under threat, which makes tracking the scale of the cuts challenging.

Here are just four examples – from the large scale to the tiny, of services that are set to go this year.

In June, the Independent Living Fund, which provides funding for around 18,000 disabled people to work and live in the community, will be wound down. In Liverpool, there will be a decision in early 2015 over whether the council will close a possible 23 out of the city’s 26 Sure Start centres. On a smaller scale, organisations including the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, in north London, which supports around 150 refugees and asylum seekers, providing English classes, faces closure because of cuts to education budgets.

These are people who come to us on a daily basis who desperately need some kind of support,” project manager Andy Ruiz Palma says. “I would lose my job, but I am more worried about the clients. There is nowhere else for them to go.”

In Ealing, west London, parents are campaigning to save the lollipop crossing role, done for the past 20 years by Eileen Rowles, and now at risk of being discontinued because of council spending cuts.

The Office for Budget Responsibility said in December that the chancellor’s plans would mean one million further government job losses by 2020 (a total fall from early 2011 of 1.3 million), representing a 20% fall in headcount.

Over the past five years, there has been surprise and relief from politicians that public anger about spending cuts has been relatively muted. Aside from a few annual anti-cuts marches in big cities, Britain has not experienced the waves of protest seen in countries such as Spain. Given that those most affected by the cuts are the most vulnerable and disempowered people in society, it’s perhaps not surprising that the response has been muted.

But that could change in 2015. The next stage of cutbacks is likely to be harder to ignore. The easy decisions have already been made; once the low-hanging fruit has been removed, finding new things to cut gets harder, which means the second half of the austerity era is likely to be much tougher than the first.

By next May, government funding for councils will be 40% lower than it was in 2010; and a further 13% will need to be cut in 2015.

It is individuals who have paid the price of funding reductions, whether it is through seeing their local library close, roads deteriorate or support for young people or families scaled back. Further reductions without radical reform will have a detrimental impact on people’s quality of life,” the Local Government Association chair, Tony Sparks, says.

The 2011 campaign to save Kensal Rise library from closure.
The 2011 campaign to save a London library from closure. Photograph: Sean Smith/The Guardian

The National Audit Office has warned that more than half of councils currently risk falling into serious financial crisis before the end of the decade. Some may struggle to provide services that they are legally obliged to offer, and this may become apparent in 2015 with more legal action by service users.

Nicola Smith, head of economic affairs at the TUC, says:

“The scale of the spending cuts that the chancellor set out in his autumn statement briefing is truly severe. The public sector has already experienced five years of austerity. The consequences for key services that people rely on are severe.”

Osborne has said that if the Conservatives win the election he will want to cut a further £12bn a year from the welfare bill – on top of the £20m-£25m that has already been cut. He proposes freezing working-age benefits for two years, reducing the overall benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000, and limiting access to housing benefit for people under 21.

Professor John Hills, director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics, says that the impact of further cuts in this area would be very painful.

“Both the political and public belief is that spending on out-of-work benefits is a large share of overall public spending; it is not. Trying to make large savings from what is really a small share of public spending will require increasingly harsh cuts. We have seen this already through things like the bedroom tax, the imposition of council tax on people with very low incomes, and the greatly increased use of sanctioning. To continue to get more savings from that group will require harsher measures.”

Source – Welfare Weekly, 01 Jan 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/austerity-cuts-will-bite-even-harder-2015-another-12bn-will-go/

Hartlepool leaders call for Robin Hood tax to save town from cuts

Councillors are calling on the Government to bring in a new Robin Hood tax to reverse swingeing cuts.

A group of six Hartlepool councillors put forward a motion for the authority to support a movement calling for greater taxes on the financial sector.

Supporters say the tax will generate £20bn which could be used to fight poverty and help ordinary families.

The motion to support the tax was put forward by independent and Putting Hartlepool First councillors Jonathan Brash, Pamela Hargreaves, Paul Thompson, Kelly Atkinson, Geoff Lilley, John Lauderdale and David Riddle. It was unanimously supported by councillors at a recent full meeting of the council.

It comes just after the council learned that its funding from central government will be £8.3million less for 2015/16 than the previous year.

Hartlepool has seen £30 million less funding since 2010/11 – putting huge pressure on services.

The motion read:

“This council notes the suffering forced upon local residents as a result of this coalition government’s cuts programme and asserts that there is an alternative to its ideologically-driven attack on public services – namely the levy of a financial transaction tax on the speculative activities that have accelerated the recent enrichment of the few to the detriment of the many.

“The council therefore calls upon Government to enact the financial transaction (Robin Hood) tax and use the revenues from this measure to reverse ongoing shrinkage in central grants to our council and public services as a whole.”

The council will now write to Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, pledging their support for the tax.

It would see a 0.05 per cent tax on transactions like stocks, bonds, and foreign currency.

Council leader, Christopher Akers-Belcher, who is also chairman of the finance and policy committee, said: “I do feel it has merit.

Source – Hartlepool Mail, 30 Dec 2014

Twice as many jobs lost in North East than forecast and more to come

Almost twice as many public sector jobs have been lost across the North-East under the Government’s cuts than originally forecast, claims the TUC.

And the union organisation is warning of more to come, with councils facing further cuts in the new financial year.

It was revealed last week that Hartlepool Borough Council is to get £8.3million less in the financial year 2015/16 than in the previous 12 months.

The TUC says analysis of the latest figures show there are 59,000 fewer public sector jobs in the North-East than when the coalition came to power in 2010 – almost twice the figure originally predicted when Chancellor George Osborne outlined the planned cuts immediately after the election.

The TUC says Office of National Statistics data reveals the region’s public sector has contracted by an average 1,157 public sector jobs per month since June 2010.

And with more than seven months’ data still to be collected before the end of this parliament, the Northern TUC is predicting the loss of at least 8,000 more public sector jobs in the region.

Northern TUC policy and campaigns officer Neil Foster said:

“The loss of 59,000 jobs from the public sector has been terrible news for services in the region and for the individuals affected. But it has also harmed our region’s recovery and contributed a deterioration of the quality of jobs.

“The cuts have been even deeper here than many expected because the coalition has made bigger reductions to funding for councils in poorer areas in the north than to more affluent parts of southern England. The North-East continues to have the highest unemployment in the UK and double the rate of the South East of England.

“Only a small proportion of private sector jobs created have been full-time, secure or well paid, which is one of the reason why income tax receipts have fallen this last year.

“Women make up two thirds of public sector workers, and so it is not a surprise that the number of women out of work in the North-East has risen by a quarter in the last two years as more and more redundancies have been made. Rather than appreciate the failure of taking such an extreme and damaging path, the Chancellor announced earlier this month that he wants to see even more cuts in the future, which would be devastating for us here.”

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  29 Dec 2014

Women To Be Hit Hardest By Tax-Credit And Benefits Freeze – Study

This article was written by Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent, for The Guardian on Saturday 20th December 2014

Women will overwhelmingly bear the brunt of a freeze in tax credits and benefits that will be introduced by George Osborne if the Tories win the general election next year, according to an analysis by the House of Commons library.

The shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, accused the Tories of planning to “hit millions of families on modest incomes” after the figures showed 80% of the estimated savings in tax credits would come from women. Women would provide 75% of the savings in benefits.

Labour commissioned the analysis after the chancellor announced in his speech to the Conservative party conference in September that he would save £3bn a year by freezing working age benefits. The freeze, which Balls describes as a cut in real terms, would hit 10m households.

The analysis has taken Osborne’s forecast that the freeze will produce an annual saving of £3.2bn by 2017-18. It says that £2.4bn (75%) of the savings will be provided by women and £800m by men (25%). It says that women are on course to receive 80% of tax credits by 2017-18 which means they will overwhelmingly be affected by the freeze.

Balls said:

“These new figures show how, once again, women will bear the brunt of David Cameron and George Osborne’s choices. This follows four years of budgets which have taken six times more from women than men – even though women earn less than men.

“Of course we need to make savings to get the deficit down. But the Tories have chosen to hit millions of working families on modest incomes again, while keeping their huge tax cut for millionaires.”

Labour has regularly pointed out that cuts or freezes to working-age benefits penalise women and amount to a strivers’ tax on low-paid workers. The large numbers of women in part-time work and the pressures of childcare mean that they rely more on tax credits, making them more vulnerable to cuts and freezes.

The attack by Labour on the impact of the freeze shows that Balls believes he is on strong ground to promote his own narrative on deficit reduction in the runup to the election: that the deficit must be tackled but in a way that does not hit the working poor and imposes a greater burden on richer voters.

Labour has pledged to ensure that the deficit falls year on year in the next parliament, though it has not set a date, as Osborne has, for the structural budget deficit to be eliminated. The party has also pledged to ensure that the wealthy make a greater contribution by restoring the 50p higher rate of income tax.

Balls said:

Working people are already worse off under this government. If the Tories win next year, 3 million working people face being made worse off because their tax credits will be cut again. This strivers’ tax will cost a one-earner family with two children earning £25,000 almost £500 a year.

“While the Tories target working people, our tough but balanced approach will start by reversing the £3bn-a-year Tory tax cut for the top 1% of earners.”

Osborne’s freeze, which will hit the poorest third of the population, will mean working families lose up to £490 a year in child benefit and tax credits. The average amount lost will be £300 per household.

In setting out the freeze at the Tory conference, Osborne said:

“The fairest way to reduce welfare bills is to make sure that benefits are not rising faster than the wages of the taxpayers who are paying for them … we will provide a welfare system that is fair to those who need it, and fair to those who pay for it too.”

Pensioner and disability benefits will be excluded.

> More austerity (for some) whoever wins seems to be the message from the Big 3 parties. It’s just a matter of choosing who you get fucked over by…

Source –  Welfare Weekly, 20 Dec 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/women-hit-hardest-tax-credit-benefits-freeze-study/

Cuts To Local Welfare Schemes ‘A Christmas Present To Loan Sharks’

This articlewas written by Patrick Butler, social policy editor, for The Guardian on Thursday 18th December 2014

Poverty charities and councils have warned that the government’s refusal to guarantee funding for local welfare schemes will force low income families in crisis to turn to food banks and loan sharks.

The government announced in January that it would no longer provide £180m central funding for local welfare assistance schemes operated by English local authorities after April 2015, triggering a cross-party revolt by Conservative MPs and council leaders, Labour councils and charities.

It is believed that the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, attempted to secure £70m for local welfare to announce in Thursday’s local government finance settlement, but was blocked by the chancellor, George Osborne.

The local government minister Kris Hopkins told the Commons on Thursday that there would be no additional funding for local welfare, although he encouraged councils to make further formal representations, raising faint hopes that the government may revisit the decision in February.

Local welfare provision offers emergency help for a range of vulnerable people who fall into unexpected crisis, including women fleeing domestic violence, homeless people, pregnant mothers, care leavers, pensioners and people suffering from chronic physical and mental health problems.

Some in Whitehall are understood to be concerned that cutting local welfare will provide additional fuel to critics who argue the government does not care about poverty. A cross-party report on food banks this month urged the government to protect local welfare assistance, saying food bank referrals would increase if it was not reinstated.

Hopkins said that although there would be no new funds for local welfare, ministers would outline a notional figure of £130m in the overall grant allocations to councils – a cut of £50m – although this would not be ring-fenced, meaning councils can spend it on other services.

Cllr Andy Hull, Labour-run Islington council’s executive member for finance, called the decision not to provide local welfare funding “an early Christmas present from the government for loan sharks and payday lenders.”

He added: “This safety net supports families to stay together, helps people sustain their tenancies and keeps kids out of care. It is a lifeline, not a luxury. Now, thanks to the government, it lies in shreds.”

The Local Government Association said almost three-quarters of local authorities will abandon or scale back local welfare schemes unless they receive government funding. Two county councils, Nottinghamshire and Oxfordshire, have already closed their schemes.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“In the long-run tax payers will foot a higher bill if low-income families can’t stop a one-off, unforeseen expense from becoming a full-blown crisis – and the human cost will be high. For mothers leaving violent partners or youngsters moving on from homelessness or care, the schemes can make the difference between managing or not.”

Helen Middleton of the Furniture Reuse Network, whose member charities work closely with councils on helping low-income families, said the decision showed the government had “no real understanding of the levels of poverty in this country”.

Homelessness charity Centrepoint said young homeless people used local welfare schemes as a vital safety net:

“It’s completely unacceptable that young people who have fought to turn their lives around after facing homelessness are once again left to sleep on floors for lack of something as basic as a bed.

“Ministers must look carefully at responses from councils to this announcement and consider whether their proposal really reflects the level of poverty in many of our communities.”

Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said:

“The government’s decision to reduce annual funding from £172m to £130m will make it harder for councils to support vulnerable families facing a crisis. The requirement that town halls fund their schemes from within existing budgets may create a postcode lottery for many families in poverty.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  18 Dec 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/cuts-local-welfare-schemes-christmas-present-loan-sharks/

North East unemployment figures down but the region still has the highest rate in the country

The North East has retained its position as the worst region for jobs in the latest batch unemployment figures – despite showing a reduction in the numbers of those seeking work.

Statistics released on Wednesday revealed a regional unemployment rate of 9.1% with 118,000 people looking for work in the region.

The figures are for the three months ending in October and show a fall of 1% compared to the same period last year.

It follows previous figures which showed a rise for three successive quarters.

The figures show unemployment down across the country but the North East is still top of the table.

However, bosses at organisations welcomed the improvement in figures.

Neil Carberry, director for employment and skill at the Confederation of British Industry, said:

“As we come to the end of the year, it’s good news that unemployment continues to fall, as jobs are being created. It’s good to see even more people working full-time.

“We are starting to see the first signs of real pay growth picking up, which will have given households an encouraging boost in the run up to Christmas.”

> Yes, but since “full-time” work  equals 16 hours a week, there are a lot of jobs that no-one can afford to take if they have no other source of income.

Unions accepted the rate in the region was down but said zero hour contracts disguised the impact.

Ruth Berkley, of Unison’s North East office, said:

“While our unemployment figure in the region has come down to 9.1%, it is disappointing that we continue to have the highest level of unemployment in the country, including for youth unemployment.

“There has been a significant increase in zero hours contracts in the region, with 52,000 now working on such contracts.

“In the last 12 months we have also seen an increase of 11 per-cent in female unemployment, partly as a result of public sector job losses.

“George Osborne in his Autumn Statement stated that there is yet more to come in terms of public sector jobs being cut.

“Despite what Ian Duncan Smith claims that there are jobs for all those who want full time employment, the reality for this region is that we have the highest level of under-unemployed of any region.”

Unusually, the employment rate is higher among women than among men in the North East – in most places in the UK it is the other way round.

They remain close though – the rate for men is 8.9% while among women the figure is 9.3%

A spokesman for the Office of National Statistics said:

“The unemployment rate for people aged 16 and over for the UK was 6 per-cent for the period August to October 2014.

“The region with the highest rate in Great Britain was the North East at 9.1 per-cent followed by Wales and Yorkshire and The Humber, both at 7.1 per-cent and the West Midlands at 6.8 per-cent.

“The regions with the lowest rate were the South East at 4.6 per-cent followed by the South West, at 4.8% and the East of England, at 5 per-cent.”

Not surprisingly the region topped the list of people claiming jobseekers allowance.

The Office for National Statistics said:

“The seasonally adjusted Claimant Count rate for the UK was 2.7 per-cent in November 2014, down 0.1 percentage points from October 2014, with the level down 26,900.

“The region with the highest rate in Great Britain was the North East, at 4.5 per-cent, down 0.1 percentage point from the previous month.”

> As usual, no mention of sanctions and their role in “reducing” unemployment levels.

Unemployment figures by region 

Tory election win would ‘end local council services’, Durham council leader claims

Another Tory-led government would spell the end of local services as we know them, a Labour council leader has claimed.

Durham County Council chief Simon Henig issued the stark warning as his cabinet discussed making another £16.2m of cuts next year, taking the total imposed at the North-East’s biggest council between 2010 and 2018 to around £250m.

Around 2,000 jobs have been lost.

Cllr Henig said Chancellor George Osborne’s spending plans for beyond the General Election and towards 2020, announced in last week’s Autumn Statement, would mean ‘the end of local council services as we currently recognise them‘ and told the County Hall meeting: “There’s now a very clear choice ahead of us in 2015, which I believe will shape the country for a generation to come.”

 

Local councils were expecting to hear how much money they would get from central government for the year ahead today (Wednesday), but the announcement was delayed until tomorrow (Thursday).

Durham faces much tougher cuts, of £32m and £39.1m, in 2016 and 2017 and 2015’s total would have been higher had councillors not opted to raid the authority’s reserves, to the tune of £10m.

The council has already cut around £130m and next year’s savings include £8.5m from children and adults services and £933,000 from introducing charges for garden waste collection.

The figures are based on a council tax rise of two per cent, although that may yet require a local referendum if Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has his way.

 Durham’s deputy leader Alan Napier said the Coalition had been an economic disaster and cabinet member Morris Nicholls said dealing with the cuts was “like being in the trenches”.

Opposition groups on the council have welcomed the use of the authority’s reserves and are expected to announce alternative budget proposals in the weeks to come, ahead of final decisions in February.

Source – Durham Times,  17 Dec 2014