Demands to slash £176m from the budget over the next three years have left many essential services at serious risk in the most swingeing cost-cutting exercise the authority has ever seen.
Councillors were last night given their first taste of the sort of unpalatable decisions they must make before the budget is set in February. And, as deputy leader Coun David Borrow warned in the Evening Post on Wednesday, the list was brim full of shocks.
Officers have come up with a range of suggestions which will affect all age groups from young children to the elderly.
Social care, particularly for adults with learning disabilities, could be worst hit to the tune of £62m if the authority accepts the recommendations.
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The county’s public health and wellbeing provision could be trimmed by more than £14m. Services for children and young people risk losing £11m. And even the county’s coroner service would not escape the economies as the authority looks to meet staggering Government targets.
“There is stuff on there (the list) that I didn’t come into politics to be involved in doing,” said Coun Borrow. “We deliver about 300 services and, when we do the budget in February, some of those are going to be reduced and some of them will disappear.”
Councillors have only a few weeks to consider the suggestions before the council’s budget scrutiny working group gets to work. More savings are also being looked at because officers still haven’t come up with enough.
Amongst the cuts suggested are £5m from cultural services including libraries, £20m from waste management, £1.5m from mainstream home to school transport and £1.3m from care for the elderly.