Spending Review: Concerns grow in England over cuts

Image caption,
Public sector spending cuts will be announced next week

Concern is growing around England as those who heavily rely on the public sector wait to find out how next week's Spending Review will affect them.

BBC-commissioned research suggests certain areas of England may feel the impact more than others.

Middlesbrough was found to be least resilient to cuts in the research carried out by Experian, which was published by the BBC last month.

Experts have voiced fears cuts may lead to health problems and a rise in crime.

In Liverpool, a senior public health lecturer has warned the cuts may increase ill health in the city, which has the highest concentration of deprived areas, according to the Experian research.

Dr Alex Scott-Samuel, clinical senior lecturer in public health at the University of Liverpool, said the area also had higher levels of disease and premature death than other parts of England.

He said such inequalities would only increase as a result of government policy changes, particularly if there were job cuts.

"When there is an increase in unemployment, there is an increase in ill health and death rates," he added.

"I am very concerned about people's health in Liverpool."

Even though the government has promised not to cut healthcare spending, Dr Scott-Samuel said a tradition of allocating more NHS resources to the South East than the North West meant the area was particularly vulnerable.

However, he added that a lot of work was being done locally to address the issue of health inequality.

In Hull, which has the highest proportion of people claiming benefits, according to the research, workers at a homeless charity which relies on local authority funding and housing benefit have said they fear for its future.

Peter Drinkell, project director of Doorstep, which provides housing for the homeless, said he was concerned the charity might be "forced out of the market" by the cuts.

Tower Hamlets in east London is another area the Experian research suggested could feel the impact of cuts quite significantly.

The research showed the borough had the highest proportion of households vulnerable to long-term unemployment.

'Painful cuts'

Tower Hamlets Council said it had a range of schemes to get unemployed residents back to work and was taking steps to minimise the impact of budget cuts.

Policing budgets are expected to be hit hard in the Spending Review and some forces have already announced anticipated job cuts.

The cut to the police budget in England and Wales is generally expected to total 25%.

Kent Police's chief constable, Ian Learmonth, has said he fears crime could rise if the force has to make cuts of up to 20%.

He said expected budget savings of £53m over four years meant up to 1,500 jobs could be lost.

Greater Manchester Police announced last month that it was also expecting to lose 1,500 officers, plus 1,600 civilian workers, from a total of 12,000 employees.

In the Experian research, Manchester had the third worst crime rate of 324 local authorities in England.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy has said the cuts will be "challenging and painful" and will have an impact on policing.

GMP Federation has said it could lead to crime rising in the long term.

Image caption,
Tower Hamlets in east London is vulnerable to long-term unemployment, research suggests

A spokeswoman for GMP Authority said forces would not know exactly what budgets they have until about December, but added their focus would be on protecting front-line services.

Local authorities are also preparing to hear how their budget will be cut.

Barnsley council in South Yorkshire has announced it is to shed up to 335 jobs early next year.

Letters have been sent to more than 1,500 employees to tell them their jobs might be affected.

The news comes just weeks after the council said it was cutting 156 posts with the privatisation of the town's home help service.

Ray Oldroyd, Barnsley branch secretary for Unison, said: "This is going to have a major impact on front-line services across communities."

In Nottinghamshire, the county council says it will do "all it can" to avoid closing community facilities because of funding cuts.

The county's libraries and recycling centres are among the amenities facing cutbacks, but councillors said they would look at alternatives to closure.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has warned that cuts to its fire prevention department could put lives at risk.

It is trying to find cuts of £3m over four years to its current £21m budget.

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