30/12/2012 05:58 GMT

Government Cuts Could 'Break Up Civil Society', Say Labour Council Leaders

Tory cuts will lead to "problems on the street" and "the break-up of civil society", the Labour council leaders of Newcastle, Birmingham and Sheffield have warned.

The three leaders claim that northern cities are being unfairly affected by the latest round of council budget cuts - which could lead to a "deeply divided nation".

Newcastle's council leader Nick Forbes, Sheffield's Julie Dore and the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson made the claims printed in a letter to the Observer on Sunday.

george osborne

The Chancellor's planned extra cut in council budgets is a step too far, the leaders claim

In the letter, the three leaders say they have written to the communities secretary Eric Pickles, saying the planned further 2% cuts planned on top of the existing 28% is a step too far.

The letter goes on to claim that there exists in Westminster "a brand of Conservatism that has no social conscience, taking us back to a Dickensian view of the world".

The three leaders urged the Conservative and Lib Dem government to heed their warning and change economic course "before the forces of social unrest start to smoulder".

eric pickles

The leaders claim to have written to the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, with their concerns

The Guardian quotes a government spokesman, rejecting the leaders' concerns, and saying the programme of cuts was "fair".

"Every bit of the public sector needs to do its bit to help pay off the inherited budget deficit," the spokesman said.

"This is a fair settlement - fair to north and south, fair to rural and urban areas and fair to shires and metropolitan areas."