Fair Choices for Tough Times

And when further funding reductions pushed that up to £108m, in November the council consulted interested groups on additional cuts.

Now the authority has begun formally consulting on its budget proposals for 2014-15 including a freeze in council tax to help hard pressed families.

The vast majority of the proposals have been available on the council's website since last year. The public now have until Monday, February 3, to comment formally on them.

To view the budget report, Fair Choices for Tough Times, visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/budget2014-15

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, said: "With unprecedented reductions in Government funding, we are straining every sinew to save jobs and keep vital public services in the city.

"Residents, community groups and partners have come forward over the last year and as a result of their co-operation and commitment we have managed to save libraries, respite centres and other valuable services.

"But many of the cuts that have been announced by the Government over the past couple of years still have to be made, which will mean many more tough decisions have to be taken as our funding is slashed even further.

"As well as working hard to deliver as much as we can in this age of austerity, we will continue to do everything in our power to lobby Government with our partners in the Core Cities and the Local Government Association for a fundamentally fairer funding arrangement for councils.

"And in recognition of the cost of living crisis that many face, we are proposing to freeze council tax for the fourth year running.  These budget proposals therefore offer fair choices in tough times."

The council is currently on track to save £37m this year but has another £34.9m to save next year.

Overall, the council proposes to spend £265.9m on services next year (exc schools and housing), and will continue with its capital investment programme of £450m to boost the local economy, attract investment and create jobs.

Although 350 council posts will be lost next year (1,300 from 2013-16) the council will continue to try and avoid compulsory redundancies through redeployment. Since April 2013 the workforce has reduced by 750 posts.

Cabinet will meet on Wednesday, January 8, to consider the draft budget proposals for consultation.

The consultation period will close on Monday, February 3. An amended report including consultation responses will be considered by Cabinet on Monday, February 24, and from there the draft budget will go to the meeting of city council on Wednesday, March 5, for final approval.

The council tax freeze will be for the fourth year running.

To comment on the draft proposals, residents can have their say at www.letstalknewcastle.co.uk

email letstalk@newcastle.gov.uk or write to let's talk Newcastle, room 245, Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Newcastle, NE1 8QH.

The savings of £108m that the council has to make are subject to further change as a result of further Government cuts and rising cost pressures.