Union raises ‘grave’ concerns over cuts

The largest union in Northumberland has raised ‘grave concerns’ over the potential impact of county £130million budget cuts over the next five years.

The new Labour-led administration at County Hall has announced initial plans to cut £32million off next year’s budget, with papers already out for consultation.

It comes as they plan the first budget of their term in office and Unison is calling for closer discussions with the Labour administration to ensure that services are protected.

Unison has said it will ensure that there is a wide consultation with its members, and those in sister unions, and provide feedback to councillors.

The union also pledged to encourage all community groups, tenants associations, other groups and all service users to contribute to the budget consultation.

Ian Fleming, Unison joint branch secretary, said: “Coalition government cuts over the next four years mean that the council budget will be cut by a third.

“Unison will be pressing the administration to live up to promises to protect front line services and to make sure that any reorganisation takes into account the needs of service users and employees who deliver those services.

“This Tory-led government has signaled that it doesn’t value the public sector and public sector workers and while we applaud the Labour council’s decision not to ‘outsource’ services, we believe that our members have a right to expect that they will be supported in delivering excellent public services in the county.”

He pledged that the union would work ‘tirelessly to mitigate and avoid cuts to vital services and warned that the union will ultimately listen to members in their quest to save services.

He added: “We have to challenge the ‘big lie’ that the country is broke and the only way to save money is to ‘flog off’ our public services on the cheap to the private sector.

“It’s not.”

“Unison will continue to press the case for well-funded and publicly-owned alternative to the coalition government rush to ‘outsource and privatise services.”

New research from Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA) has predicted that government cuts will reach 23 per cent of the county budget by the General Election in 2015.

CIPFA has also pointed to actual cuts in the county of 9.54 per cent for 2014-15 and eye watering cuts of 13.1per cent in 2015-16.