Mayor Sir Robin Wales says governnment cuts are targetting poor areas like Newham


- Credit: Newham Council

In the past week we have seen figures released by the Institute for Financial Studies which paint a horrific picture of the size of cuts local authorities are facing up and down the country.

The report highlighted the average spending cut per head across England is 23.4 per cent but in London, it is significantly higher at 31.4 per cent. This also demonstrated councils facing the deepest cuts are those in the most deprived areas.

Cuts planned for 2015/16 will be focused on the same local authorities that have already lost out over the past five years, and without a change in policy, further cuts over the next Parliament will also affect the same again.

So it’s fair to say this government’s cuts are unfairly targeting poorer areas like Newham. The savage cuts imposed on us by this government means we need to make £210million worth of savings over the next three years to deal with cumulative government cuts of £156m and other cost pressures of £54m.

The position we are in means that the council has to make some tough decisions about what we choose to invest in. The Upton Centre is a case in point. It closed last year because it requires a significant amount of work to make it safe for the public. We have worked with the groups who were based at the centre to provide them with alternative locations and a range of support. Whilst no long term decision has been made on the future of the Upton Centre – spending £5m on the centre means that we will have less money to spend on other services such as libraries or free school meals for all our primary school children.

These decisions and our wider approach will be discussed in the next fortnight. We will have to be more flexible about how and where services are delivered, working in partnership across community neighbourhoods to ensure our services provide even better quality and are more joined up. We will be seeking residents’ views to help inform our process going forward.