10/07/2011 The Politics Show North East and Cumbria


Jon Sopel and Richard Moss are here with the top political stories of the week.

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Every council in the North East has cut jobs except one. How have they


done it? From cuts in schools sport too big


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 219 seconds


The event was organised by after as part of the royal visit to the


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 219 seconds


The warmest of welcomes to your local part of the show. The final


one of the series. Six months ago, these youngsters


were looking for a job. Did they find one? They had a big society


idea to run their own cinema in Cumbria, if they could raise the


money. We will find out later what happened.


First, the warnings were dire. They would be a haemorrhage of council


jobs across the North. So how bad is it proving to be for those


working, or no longer working, in our town halls? We contacted every


council in Cumbria and the North East to find that just how many


redundancies there have been. The findings are surprising. Every


local authority has cut jobs beside one, which is one of the biggest.


Billingham Ice Rink, newly refurbished by the local council.


Things are not only chilly for the skaters. Budget cuts are cold. They


have been planned for, but 79 redundancies took place a new wave.


When you have to get so much money out of the budget, redundancies


will always take place. The main expenditure any cancel next is on


staff. That is the picture across the


Most of Gateshead's 967 redundancies were voluntary. This


is Sunderland council. They rose �39 million budget squeeze here,


too. Here is the thing, nobody has lost their job in the building


behind me. Not a single compulsory redundancy, not a single voluntary


redundancy. Around here, they call it the Sunderland way. So how does


it work? Workers whose jobs disappear do not


end up sacked. They ended on what is called the switch team, a


waiting room for jobs, of a sort. If your job disappears, we would


try and match you with another post somewhere in the council, or one of


our partner organisations if possible. If that proves to be


impossible, we will employ you him what we call these which team. --


switch team. It is better for the city's economy and for the council.


We believe it is a win-win situation for us stop while the


council says on redundancy bills, 200 us so people are in deep sea


which team, waiting for a new job. This former accountant runs the


canteen, now. It is very different, walking


around, familiarising myself with what this cafe brings to the public


and workers. Unions say this should be a model


for other councils. I do not understand why other local


authorities are not doing it. It is working here. Other authorities


need to take a close look at what we are doing here in Sunderland.


Not everyone is convinced that the Sunderland we can actually save


money. The worry is for the workforce. Whether the adjustments


in public spending will be put forward in a sustainable way. The


level of jobs at the council has to be adjusted in a way that will last,


and not store up problems for the future.


We will reach the end of this year within our budget. We will meet our


savings targets. We have the agreement of the unions and the


workforce to work towards Withe what we are doing. -- towards what


they are doing. We have excellent, long-serving people here. We


Avoiding redundancies at a time of cuts seemed like a neat trick, but


there are still years of squeezed budgets head. Will the Sunderland


way end up as a cautionary tale or a model for the council's?


Have the job cuts really been necessary? Joining me now is the


Conservative candidate for Berwick. If Sunderland can do this, why are


other councils making so many redundancies? Should Sunderland not


be the muddled? We need to be clear, all councils


are currently doing their best in a difficult situation. The funding


settlement and the cuts imposed from central government, on all


councils, are a difficult challenge to face. The way it is being


imposed, front loaded, with big cuts to be made in the first year,


has put councils and a difficult position. Some are clearly managing


better than others in Sunderland can do it without making


redundancies. I think every council is doing it as best they can.


Sunderland have used an interesting model. We have is a success. I


think this is a deficit reduction plan, over four years. It is


heavily front loaded and one of the big criticisms is that front


loading it in this way, not going councils time to prepare, has left


them in a position of being forced to make redundancies. It will cost


more upfront than if they could have stretched the savings out over


a longer period. A Labour councillor in Sunderland,


delivering huge savings, without losing job. It is a very


interesting scheme which I have just heard about for the first time.


If they are able to bring in the savings without losing jobs, that


is an excellent proposition. It reminds me very much of what you


see in the private sector, where you need to make cuts across the


board to bring budgets into line with deficit positions, they are


agreeing to that and moving people into jobs that may well have lower


salaries but the employers are staying within the organisation. --


employees. If it works, that is fantastic. We have to be sure that


budgets will be met by the end of the year. But I very much of it


works. Have other councils got it wrong? I think as Catherine says,


every council takes on a budget as best they can. The key is to have a


council leadership which is flexible and can see where they


need their frontline work to be kept, and where they can make back-


office savings. Your government could have made it a lot easier by


spreading the cuts over a longer period, rather than forcing


councils to make deep cuts so early? It was the opinion of the


Treasury that the state of our finances, ASLEF to us by Labour,


was so perilous that he had to make it clear quickly how serious we


were about bringing those numbers down. -- ASLEF to us. It is


difficult for everybody, but we are close to being a bankrupt nation.


We need to be clear and tough, up front. Everybody has had to make


that judgment. If Sunderland's proposition eases the pressure on


immediate redundancies, that is great. Most redundancies are


voluntary, it is not as bad as we fear it. Only one in six


redundancies are compulsory, does that mean Labour and the unions are


crime will? I do not think so. There is a bigger picture at play.


-- crying wolf? People are looking at services delivered... They are


getting more efficient, as they should. Just this week, I have been


speaking to Newcastle constituents, elderly residents, who are very


concerned about the cuts imposed prior to this current


administration being in place. They are delivering the cuts as


established and it is putting elderly residents in a difficult


position. The price has doubled for their care for. If you had listened


to your party, it was going to be cataclysmic. This suggests it is


not. It is not pain-free but neither is it a cataclysm. We are


looking at a rising unemployment and we need to look as well at who


is actually being targeted by this. We need to look at general fairness


across the country. Our region and London and Manchester, and


Liverpool, are suffering. The highest level of cuts in the


country. This is storing up a serious problem, not just for now


but for the future. Take Sunderland, who did avoid redundancies. They


say they have had to keep 600 jobs vacant. This is not pain-free,


those jobs which were doing something before were providing


services. I am sure somewhere and we all knew this would be a painful


time, we have to get our finances back on track. It is down to the


local councils to use the reduced budgets which they have and spend


them, if they can, on frontline services. It is down to the


management and modernisation of services. In Northumberland, we


have seen it difficult progress through modernising services in


adult care, for instance. But that is what must be done. If financial


constraints forced the councils into that position, from my point


of view, that is a good thing. the financial constraints in


Northern councils have been a lot worse than some of the leafy


suburbs of the Home Counties. are differences across the country.


In education, in Northumberland, we have one of the fourth lowest grant


allocations and the country editors in the case for 25 years. It needs


to be reviewed and these are battles we need to fight. The North


East should continue to fight if it feels it is no getting its fair


share. In Surrey, they are able to manage the budget better, and if so


we need to look at that. I have to object, I do not think it is about


managing budgets better or worse. Here in the North East, we face


particular challenges and we have done and things have improved. That


is why budgets have been allocated to areas of deprivation, do try and


tackle some of those fundamental issues and social problems which he


to be addressed. I think we are in grave danger of all of the good


work that has been done to put money and resources into these


problems, but what will be reversed. We are storing up a bigger problem


for the future. Ultimately, we are not reducing the deficit but


increasing it. Because we are only going to increase the benefits bill


and the NHS bills which will result. Thank you very much.


If you visit my blood you can see the details of our survey and see


how many jobs your local council -- my blog. It is our final programme


of the series so what better time to catch up on some of the stories


we have covered during a remarkable year. We will hear any moment from


Durham campaigners fighting cuts and community projects. First the


story of young job-hunters who appeared on a programme five months


ago. They were under 25, from the North


East, and desperate for full-time employment. Back in February, they


had their message to the politicians. What it is, as soon as


you walk into the JobCentre you become a number. It would be more


helpful to be treated as an individual. What happens next to


our trio of job-hunters? When we last spoke to Scott, he had lost


his job in IT and set his heart on being a youth worker. Five years


later, it has not happened, but there has been good news. I have


been accepted for an IT apprenticeship which is really


promising. It is full-time work, 35 hours, five days a week. Although


it is an apprenticeship wagered is still great.


Joe, a few months back, had to make do with a part-time job. Has his


search for part-time work been successful? Know. -- full-time


Work I have only found part-time work. Becky set her sights on


photography, and is considering going back to college or more


qualifications. In a year when spending cuts dominated debate, I


plan to reduce funding for School sport proved controversial. We had


complaints in November but less games like this one, in County


Durham, would take place. Ministers insisted their aim was more


competitive sport and ended up restoring some, but not all, of the


money. There was more on the buses on direct funding to schools. But


that has not reassured teachers. But we have gone from three full-


time workers on a project to one and that is what will happen next


year as well. This will mean, in practice, they would be less


competitions and festivals for young people. There will be less


money to bring coaches in And bless activities. From rugby balls to


wrecking balls. End-October, reported on a plan to run --


demolish a run-down housing in Middlesbrough and replace it with


new builds. Huge delays led to complaints of dereliction and


abandonment. What has happened since? Since last October, the


ground has at least been grassed over to make it more pleasant.


There have been no new builds. The community has set up their


Community Land Trust. At the end of the day it means the community


coming together and hopefully in future, having full consultations


with Middlesbrough Council. Local people getting involved in


refurbishment themselves? Yes, if that is the way we have to go, and


look for funding to redevelop the area, I am in favour of.


People power was the name of the game in the Cumbrian town of


Penrith. In January, we heard why locals there were determined to


save their cinema from closure. Maybe we are in with a chance to do


something. The idea of the Society working together... Maybe we can do


that. And do what they did. After street


demonstrations and the raising of tens of thousands of pounds, the


campaign has finally can pay the dissimilar's owner -- persuaded the


cinema's owner to extend the lease and give cinema-goers the happy


ending they want. Let's talk about those three young


unemployed people. Two still looking for permanent work. The


government is not live record for those young people are as it?


excited to find that one of them has found an apprenticeship. The


North East has had a good record of finding apprenticeships. That get


people into long-term career is. lot of people remain on the scrap


heap? Yes, but the private sector is starting to grow again in small


business terms in the North East. Have you evidence that it is


growing? We have run a study over the last 12 months. New jobs, over


22,000, have been announced. What is Labour's big idea to get


youngsters back into work? Youth unemployment soared under Labour,


to. We have recently launched an idea for a bank bonus tax, it is


about time the bankers paid us back for some of the chaos they created


in the financial crisis. Some of that money will be allocated


towards a youth job fund, which is a follow on lengths to the future


jobs fund. If it was down to the private sector to create those jobs,


what difference for that may? also fun for apprenticeships which


I fully support and have done significantly through the bell. --


a fund for apprenticeships. -- the bill. It is about the government


working with businesses to create opportunities by providing funding.


We saw the big society in action to save Penrith's cinema. The title


has that day caused entertainment and difficulty in the media. It is


empowering people to do that, legislation is coming through in


lots of areas where people will be able to do things more easily. I


have a seven Cr be checks for the seven organisations I am involved


in and they only need one. -- CRB. I want more parents involved in


community sport and so on, and we have to make it easier and much


more difficult. That is what the big society is about, having the


minimum legislation, to encourage people. Community housing trusts


set up in Middlesbrough, community action, they cannot afford to do it


in the counsels us something is doing - when been the latter by the


Is it not good for people to take on responsibilities the council


cannot? Yes. As far as I can tell, David Cameron is trying to take


credit for the hard work of these communities and community


associations up and down the country, as being his great idea.


It is ridiculous. The funding which is being cut is making the


society's small and not the bigger. That is it from us. We are off on


our summer holidays. My thanks to all our guests and you for watching.


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