Posted on Tuesday 8 November 2016
Gateshead Council begins consultation this week on plans to reshape council services to meet an estimated £72million funding gap over the next three years.
The eight week consultation with residents, businesses, partners and employees will run from 8 November until 6 January and will seek views on proposals that could see major changes to services across the Borough.
Leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon said: “With the ongoing savage cuts to local government, it gets harder and harder each year to set a balanced budget, which we have a legal duty to do. Balancing the needs of our most vulnerable communities and protecting services that people value, whilst investing in Gateshead’s future is a massive challenge.
“We now receive almost half the amount of government grant than we did in 2010, and this main grant is set to disappear completely by 2020. This, alongside more demand for services and additional economic and financial pressures beyond our control, means that we have a funding gap of £72million in the next three years. This is on top of the huge £130million that we have already saved.
“In three years’ time if we spent every available penny we have on health and social care alone, we’d be £20million short and would not be meeting our statutory obligations, so the whole organisation has to change substantially. Now, more than ever, we need to focus on our priorities and adapt our ways of working, at a pace not known before, to meet this financial challenge. It can’t be business as usual, this is why we must and will change.
“We need to work closer with our partners, other organisations and with communities across Gateshead so that we can maintain the very fabric of the community that we represent. People already have and will continue to notice the difference and there will be things that we can’t do anymore, because we simply don’t have the resources.”
Since 2010, to help make savings, Gateshead Council has reduced its workforce by 2200 people, reduced its properties and assets by 200 and has changed the way it works internally, with partners and with the community. The council now has £380 per person less to spend on services than in 2010.
Councillor Gannon added: “I became leader of Gateshead Council to help make Gateshead a better place and it makes me angry that this government is not giving us the support it should so our residents reach their potential and have better chances in life. We’ve repeatedly raised our concerns to government about the unfairness of our funding settlement and the negative effect this is having on communities like Gateshead, we will continue to highlight and campaign against this unfairness.
“Despite the difficult times we have ahead, we’ll still be spending around £200 million a year providing the services people need so it’s important local people take time to give their views in our consultation. This feedback is very important to help us make these massive decisions. People need to get involved; it’s about their council, their services and their future.”
The outcomes of the consultation on the budget proposals will be fed back to Cabinet. The Council will agree the budget for 2017/18 in February 2017.