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Newcastle launches public budget simulator


City council invites residents to show where they would make cuts to cover £30 million gap in budget

Newcastle City Council has launched an online budget simulator for residents to provide their views on where it should be making cuts to plug a £30 million gap in its budget.

It said it has released the tool to make people more aware of the financial challenges facing the council, and to encourage more to provide input into setting the budget.

Participants can choose where cuts should take place then submit their own budgets, but the simulator shows them the consequences of each cut with a breaking news headline. It also brings together all the individual submissions to produce a People’s Budget as an overview.

More than 110 people reportedly completed the budget process in the first three days that the simulator was live, showing a much higher level of engagement than consultations in previous years. The council also claimed positive feedback on social media.

The move follows Bristol City Council’s launch of a similar tool in August, although a Newcastle spokesperson said the two projects have been carried out independently of each other.

New engagement

Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “We’ve harnessed the power of technology to engage with our residents in a new and innovative way. This budget calculator puts residents in our seats to understand the scale of the challenge and how the decisions we take have consequences – often painful.

“I hope that once people can get a better understanding of the budget, and the decisions that we need to make, they can contribute their ideas, and this tool can then be a blueprint for how we consult and engage with our residents and businesses in the future.”

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