The County Council’s proposed cuts for financial year 2017/18 have been revealed at today’s session of Scrutiny.
The Council has made budget reductions of £34.4m this year, which has resulted in unpopular cuts to the Fire Service, community and passenger transport, Adult Social Care and the Voluntary Sector. It was today revealed that a further cut of £31.33m is expected next year. While most departments are expected to underspend again this year, the projected £8m overspend in Children and Young People’s Services – largely on providing expensive institutional placements, and spiralling numbers of children being taken into care – is a cause of great concern.
Labour Leader, Sandy Martin, said “In these uncertain economic times, we all understand the need to be prudent. But by cutting important services that stimulate the economy, open up areas of opportunity for young people, maintain quality of life and care for older people, or prevent financial or social issues from becoming more serious problems, the Council has successfully saved pennies only to cost pounds later.”
Cllr Martin continued “Already we are seeing Charities and Voluntary Sector organisations folding altogether or, like Age UK Suffolk, cutting back their services. It will cost the County Council – and Council tax payers – far more to deal with the consequences of these cuts, than the frankly minimal amounts “saved” by these cuts to our voluntary organisations.”
“This administration’s assertions about using up its substantial reserves is nothing new – we have heard it every year since 2010, only for the reserves to increase. Suffolk now needs this Council to step up, to encourage businesses and economic growth, and to invest in improved care for children and older people, and greater protection from the risk of fires, anti-social behaviour, childhood neglect and all the other down-sides of the Tory cuts agenda. A safer society would save money for the taxpayer too, keeping people out of Hospital and Prison. Instead, we are getting the same old excuses and the same tired thinking.”
Cllr Martin concluded, “This Administration has shown itself incapable of doing anything other than imposing cuts and yet more cuts. If the people of Suffolk vote us into office next May, Labour pledges to invest in the infrastructure and services which this County needs to make us safer, healthier, more sustainable and more prosperous.”