‘Children could suffer as cash goes’

Children in this region could bear the brunt of national spending cuts in the next couple of years, the Association of North East Councils is warning.

Northumberland – where the architect of the welfare state William Beveridge was Berwick MP – is predicted to lose cash, despite having some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country.

The association, Anec, reports that money is being diverted to help the south east of England.

“In 2014-15 the cut in funding to the North East is around £120million more than the national average.

“The cut to the South East appears £620 million less than the average,” it says.

“A 30 per cent cut in children’s social care is very damaging for the North East and difficult to justify, given the 10 per cent national increase in looked-after children”.

Another area of concern is roads, which could face a 40 per cent spending cut in the region.

Northumberland has a network of more than 3,000 miles, the second largest in England.

The cumulative change in spending power from 2012 to 2014 is said to be £50 to £60 a head in Northumberland, which will fare better than its neighbours in Tyne and Wear and in County Durham.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says the settlements are fair.

“Concerns that the poorest councils or those in the North would suffer disproportionately are well wide of the mark,” he has said.

“This is a fair settlement – fair to North and South, rural and urban, shire and metropolitan England.”

Anec says grant cuts to this corner of the country will amount to £150 a household over the two-year period, but only £87 in the South East. That is 6.35 per cent compared with 4.26 per cent. The national average is £125 or 5.47 per cent.

This follows an austerity regime which has already prompted Northumberland County Council to make 1,500 people redundant and leave 1,000 posts unfilled towards saving £105million.

Sir William Beveridge became the Liberal MP for Berwick in 1944, the same year in which he wrote a report called Full Employment in a Free Society.

After a year he lost his seat and was made a peer before leading his party.

He had joined the Government in 1940 and two years later produced his report on the ways Britain could be rebuilt after the war.

This identified the five ‘giant evils’ that the Government should fight: Want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.

Beveridge died in 1963 and is buried at Thockrington, nine miles west of Belsay.