Stoke & Staffordshire

Cuts will hit 'poorest' in Stoke-on-Trent

The government's Spending Review cuts are "much deeper" than expected and will hit the "poorest people" in Stoke-on-Trent, the city council has said.

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to save £81bn on Wednesday, including £7bn of savings to the welfare budget.

Mohammed Pervez, the Labour council leader, said Stoke had "exceptionally high levels of deprivation".

He said it should be a "special case" and be protected from the worst cuts.

The council, which is run by a coalition led by the Labour group, said it would know the "full picture" in the coming weeks when it finds out what grants it will receive.

'Services in jeopardy'

Mr Pervez said the council had been preparing for months for the Spending Review cuts but they were "much deeper" than it expected.

"Not only in terms of the council's budget but for the people in the city who receive benefits," he said.

He said the cuts would be difficult for all authorities.

"In our particular situation these cuts are not fair, they hit the poorest of people in the city," he said.

"We are looking at how we work and the services we deliver to come up with radical changes and innovative solutions where possible but I have no doubt some services are in jeopardy."

He said the council was chasing significant investment in the private sector because of the reduction in public sector spending but this "will take years".

Mr Pervez added: "It is crystal clear now that it is going to be painful and extremely tough with some very difficult decisions to be made on competing priorities."

Meanwhile, Staffordshire County Council said the level of cuts to local government budgets was in line with what was expected.

Tory council leader, Philip Atkins, said the cut of 7.1% each year over four years was less than some authorities expected.

The government's cuts aim to reduce the budget deficit which hit a record £155bn in the 2009/10 financial year.

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