A SENIOR church leader has accused the Chancellor of heartlessly dismissing unemployed people in the North East as “shirkers”.
In a letter to George Osborne, the Dean of Newcastle has asked why Newcastle and other councils in the North East appears to be facing disproportionately high funding cuts at a time when unemployment remains stubbornly high.
The Very Rev Chris Dalliston said the evidence available suggests the most deprived areas, including parts of the North East, are facing the deepest cuts.
In his letter to the Chancellor he said: “Week by week and day by day, I and my colleagues are encountering people here in the Cathedral or out in the wider community, who are living on benefits and who cannot, despite their best efforts, find employment.
“The services that support them are being cut, the benefits that sustain them are being cut, the jobs which they are being urged to take up simply do not exist.”
Northumberland County Council is tackling some £70m of budget cuts, while Newcastle Council looks to reduce spending by £90m. Between them and Gateshead the two will add nearly 3,000 people to regional unemployment rates in parts of the North East that suffer already from deep-rooted poverty.
It his letter, Mr Dalliston accuses the Chancellor of giving insufficient consideration to the jobless rate.
He said: “According to figures on the Office of Statistics website, employment levels are lowest (66.9%) and unemployment rates highest (10.4%) in the North East and, of course, over 1,000 employees from Newcastle City Council and a similar number from Gateshead are being added to that number in the coming months. These are not people who shirk work but who are desperate to find it.”