Fears Newcastle City Council's spending cuts will hit most vulnerable

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Crisis support teams, beds for the homeless and a service providing essential household items for people living in poverty are all set to suffer under spending cuts at Newcastle City Council.

The authority is proposing to half the money spent on homelessness and scrap its crisis support service.

The council will also review its offer of free home-to-school transport for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) who are aged over 16 and expand its residential provision for children with highly complex needs to reduce money spent on "very high-cost external residences" outside the city.

The measures come as part of plans to save £15.4m next year and almost £60m by 2027.

The council said it had to make changes due to cuts in the funding it received from central government and pressures caused by inflation and demand on services.

Research by the Local Government Association (LGA) earlier this month found that councils across England will face a funding gap of £4 billion over the next two years.

Paul has been sleeping rough in Newcastle and is worried about the impact of council cuts. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Charities and campaigners in Newcastle say the plans come at a cost to the most vulnerable like Paul, who has been sleeping rough, or when he can in a hostel, and services will be stretched further.

"It just means more people are going to be on the street", he said. "More people are going to commit crimes just to stay warm.

"You'd be surprised by how many people are actually on the streets. It is horrible out there and it's scary".

Andrew Burnip, from Crisis Newcastle, who supported over 600 people like Paul last year, said: "When people have to live on the streets, it's an awful existence. It's not life, it's barely getting by.

"And the thought of potentially more people who need that vital support, they're going to face that into the new year, it's almost too great to bear".

Gemma Middlemass' son Joseph relies on SEND transport to get to school. Credit: Family

Gemma Middlemass' 14-year-old son Joseph relies on SEND transport to get to school. He intends to stay on post-16, but the cuts could change that.

Gemma said: "Everything's a lot harder when you've got a child with disabilities. And this just is an additional support where if it is taken away, it just lands people in a lot more difficulty."

Under the plans, residents are also set to be hit with a 4.99% council tax rise and car parking price increases.

Newcastle City Council have said the changes are a result of cuts from central government that have built up over the last decade and more.

"This is the culmination of decisions over 13 years," said Councillor Paul Frew. "There isn't much left to cut and what we're focusing on is where there is least harm.

"Local government does less than it did 13 years ago and we don't have a choice in that".

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