Suffolk cannot afford any more cuts, Labour County Councillors said today, with Adult Social Care, Children’s Services and Public Protection the worst hit by the County Council’s latest budget proposals.
The Conservative administration has decided to raise Council Tax by 2% in order to cover the cost of paying care workers in Suffolk the minimum wage. “Our Residential homes and Home-Care in Suffolk are already collapsing” said Cllr Sarah Adams, Labour Spokesperson for Care. “The Conservatives continue to say that there has been no damage to the service, but everyone who has frail or dependant relatives knows that that is just not true!”
“They are calling this a Social Care Precept to disguise the fact that it is a Council Tax rise” said Cllr Len Jacklin, Labour Spokesperson for finance. “We support the increase because we know that social care in this county is already collapsing, and we believe our care workers deserve a decent day’s pay for a decent day’s work. But it is especially galling that the Conservatives have made a virtue of not raising Council Tax for years, as a matter of principle, and now they’re trying to make a virtue of their u-turn when it has been forced on them by Government cuts. Paying a decent wage to hard working care workers is the bare minimum required but when they are intent on making cuts to the service itself, it smacks of hypocrisy”
In the wake of further austerity cuts by the Conservative Government, Suffolk County Council has laid out plans for serious and unnecessary cutbacks on vital services. Reserves still stand at unreasonable levels. At 1st April 2015 Suffolk County Council had non-schools reserves of over £177 million. £72.7 million are considered to be spendable by the government – £17 million more than Norfolk, which is a considerably larger County. Even George Osborne is reported to consider Suffolk’s reserves to be unjustifiable.
Labour Group Leader, Sandy Martin, said “The Council’s reserves have been increasing year on year. The Conservative Administration claim that they will be spending down some of those reserves in the coming year, but they made that claim last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and yet every year the reserves rise. The cuts in this budget will make the County less attractive and less competitive for businesses, and make Suffolk a harder place to live for our residents”.
He continued, “Without adequate care services, more and more people will end up in hospital; without good education and training and transport our County cannot thrive; and without an adequate Fire Service we are putting our homes and businesses at risk.”