PUBLIC services in Yorkshire are being stretched to breaking point and need major changes if they are to cope with Government funding cuts and rising demand, according to a new report.
It suggests cuts in Government funding, particularly for councils, are hitting the North harder than other parts of the country and the public sector is running out of areas to save money without having an impact on front line services.
The report calls on the Government to change the way councils are funded so more money goes to poorer areas and suggests more councils should work together through “combined authorities” such as the one being developed in West Yorkshire to oversee large scale investment in areas such as transport.
It also argues that councils, unions, universities and other organisations should join together and come up with new ideas over what services should be provided in future and how they can be paid for.
The report from the Smith Institute and accountancy firm PwC will be launched in Leeds later today.
Paul Hackett, director of the Smith Institute, said: “The gap between the economic performance of the North and the South is long-standing and well documented.
“What is now emerging is a gap in the standard and quality of public services.
“If government does not act now, this gap can only get worse. A new alliance offers a chance for councils and other public service providers to work together to secure a fairer deal.”
The report suggests northern councils and health bodies create the “Northern Centre for Public Services” that can share the best ideas for delivering services for less.
Roger Marsh, partner and northern leader for government and public sector at PwC, said: “Today’s pressures on public services significantly impact the way services can and will be delivered in the future. For areas harder hit by unemployment and slow economic growth, particularly in the North, a new way of thinking is needed.”
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves said the report was fresh proof that the coalition’s cuts are “costing the North dear”.
The Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury said the report’s findings would be considered as part of Labour’s review of value for money in public spending.