Suffolk County Council looks at £31m cuts and raising social care precept

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich

A further £31.3million of budget cuts and increasing the adult social care precept will be discussed by Suffolk County Council next week.

Proposals outline savings of £31.3million across a number of services as the council identifies how services ‘can be managed in an efficient and effective way’. On Tuesday, the council’s Cabinet will discuss plans to freeze Council Tax for the seventh year.

But the budget proposals will also consider increasing the national Adult Social Care Precept, which was last year set at two per cent of total council tax in Suffolk.

The Government gave councils flexibility on how they use the precept over the next three years. Cabinet will discuss upping it by three per cent in 2017/18 and 2018/19.

If agreed, the move will raise £8.5m extra in 2017/18 to help ease the pressure on adult social care services.

The council says there is a budget gap of £39.8m in the next financial year and , on top of the proposed savings, the council plans to use around £8.5m from its usable reserves of around £49m.

The final budget decision will be made at a full council meeting on February 9.

Cabinet member for finance and heritage Richard Smith said: “After many years of very tight budget management, this year we are expecting an overspend of around £6m. This equates to just over one per cent of our overall budget and is mainly due to the increasing cost of delivering important statutory services to support the most vulnerable young people.

“We are using money from our reserves to cover this increase. This situation demonstrates exactly why we have maintained our reserves at a prudent level.

“Despite ever-increasing financial pressures, we remain absolutely committed to providing services to the most vulnerable people. Using our reserves responsibly, combined with a range of savings, is the right thing to do.

“I am confident that, should they be agreed, these proposals are targeted so that they will not impact the delivery of the County’s services.”

Labour spokesman for finance Len Jacklin, said “The callous and imprudent cuts proposed by the Conservatives will reduce Suffolk people’s ability to help each other and to thrive.

“The projected overspend in Children and Young People’s Services – largely due to spiralling numbers of children being taken into care and put in expensive institutions and the continuing crisis in the NHS and in Adult Social Care, which the Council intends to cut by a further £6m – are evidence of the failure of their approach.

“This Budget only promises more of the same tired ideas, with conditions, services and the lives of residents set to get worse as a result.”

The budget papers are at: http://committeeminutes.suffolkcc.gov.uk/