The axe falls

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THERE are few who can doubt that cuts in public spending are needed.

But arguments about the scale and speed of the reductions affecting councils, police, fire and health services among others are bound to rage now that the impact is becoming clear.

Yesterday Leeds City Council unveiled its plans to cut £90m in the coming year after, like many other northern cities, receiving one of the worst settlements from the Government.

By March next year, 1,500 fewer people will work for the authority. Services such as social care, libraries and leisure centres will be among those hit, although council leaders say they will protect the most vulnerable and have promised to invest £800,000 in jobs, skills and access to financial services for those in need.

What must be of great concern, however, is that this is only the start.

Next year the council will need to find at least another £25m in further cuts when decisions about wielding the axe will be even more difficult.

By “frontloading” the cuts, Ministers clearly hoped to get through the worst quickly – but the pain seems set to last for years to come.