Young and old to bear the brunt of cuts
Children, adult services and housing bear the brunt of the county council’s budget cuts, but members were told many savings were being made by renegotiating contracts rather than reducing standards.
Last week, the county council approved the budget for 2013/14, which contains £23million of cuts, as well as the medium-term financial plan for the period to 2016.
Care for adults, mainly elderly people, will cost £95.8million next year.
Northumberland had a higher proportion of older people than the average, so there was concern about the future, finance boss Coun Andrew Tebbutt said. “Someone will have to find the money.”
There was also a growing workload at the other end of the age spectrum. In parts of the county, as many as half of children were living in poverty.
In the past few years there had been a 90 per cent rise in youngsters needing protection.
On roads, Coun Tebbutt was confident more Tarmac would be laid next year than this.
A rapid-response system for potholes was proving successful, with more than 34,000 filled.
“The council has received praise from right across the county for the way it has dealt with snow,” he added.
Some £20million of capital was committed to Ashington’s new leisure complex and £7million to transform sports centres elsewhere. The council had exceeded its target of half of work to go to local businesses.
On council tax, it was one of only two North East authorities to protect the most vulnerable.
It disregards all war widow and Armed Forces Compensation Scheme income when assessing entitlement to housing benefit.
Second homes will receive no council tax discount in order to make up the shortfall from changes to council-tax benefit.
And some £9.7million is set aside to ensure the three planned new schools – including Alnwick’s Duchess’s Community High School – will be completed.
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Weather for Northumberland
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 31 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North