PEOPLE in the North East will be even worse affected by Government cuts than has been predicted, figures show.
The poorest parts of the country will be hit the hardest by cuts, according to revised “heat maps” showing where budget reductions will be felt most.
Calls are now being made for an independent body to be set up which will have powers to correct “grossly unfair” funding to local councils.
In November last year, Newcastle City Council put together figures showing the city stood to lose £158.20 per person over a four-year period if cuts went ahead.
But, following the government’s autumn statement – where a further £10m of savings were imposed on the city, bringing total cuts to a reported £100m – Newcastle may now lose £218 per person.
Overall, South Tyneside council will be the worst affected in the region, losing an estimated £262 per person. People in Sunderland may lose up to £220 in funding each.
Figures for Gateshead put the reductions at around £205, with people in Durham looking at losses of £160. North Tyneside residents are estimated to lose around £140, according to the revised figures.
Countrywide, the council that stands to lose the most funding is the London borough of Hackney, with a drop of £338 per person.
This is followed by Knowsley on Merseyside, Liverpool, Newham and Manchester.
All five of these areas are among the most deprived places in the county, according to government statistics.
Other areas have been much less affected, with some parts of the South East seeing less than a £30 drop in funding.
Newcastle council leader Nick Forbes said some areas suffering bigger cuts than others “cannot be fair”.
He said: “The long-established principle of councils being funded according to their levels of need to meet statutory requirements, which includes deprivation factors, seems to have been scrapped by the Government, meaning that the poorest parts of the country are being hardest hit.
“It is not just Newcastle City Council that is saying this but other organisations such as the independent spending watchdog the Audit Commission.
“I fear that the Government is not listening to us and before this gets any worse – as it inevitably will – I am calling on them to set up an independent process in conjunction with local councils.”
He said that, under this proposed independent body, ministers would continue to set the overall amount for local councils but not dictate how this money was distributed.
“This would mean that ministers would have to be clear and open about their intentions for funding councils, in place of the current system which is largely closed, highly complex and understood by only a handful of senior civil servants,” he said.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles defended the steeper drop for certain areas, saying Newcastle received £700 more than Wokingham, in the South of England, in spending power per household.
But Newcastle’s director of finance and resources, Paul Woods, said the need for funding was so much higher in the North East – with extra strains being put on social services and welfare – that the city should receive £1,000 more per household than more affluent areas in the South.
A number of independent bodies have agreed with Newcastle council’s assessment of the Government-imposed cuts.
“Our systematic review of spending cuts on local authorities showed the most deprived local authorities have been hardest hit by the cuts,” a spokesperson for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a social policy charity, said.