Suffolk County Council’s Conservative Cabinet have voted unanimously in favour of plans to cut £12m from the stretched adult care budget next year, ignoring the concerns of opposition councillors.
Councillors from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group spoke passionately against the cuts today, stressing the risk they would pose to the welfare of vulnerable residents in Suffolk.
Adult social care is currently facing immense pressures, including increased demographic demand, changing customer expectations and a stressed care provider market. Despite this, the Council is proposing to save £11m from the care purchasing budget in 2018-19.
In response Councillor Andrew Stringer, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group, said:
“I am incredibly concerned to see that £11m is being cut from the care-purchasing budget, especially considering that they are predicting a £3.47m overspend on their 2017/18 budget. There is no doubt that our most vulnerable residents will suffer if this cut goes ahead.”
Cuts to the Sheltered Housing Grant, designed to provide a saving of £1m, will also impact the most vulnerable elderly residents in our county. Currently this grant is used by sheltered housing providers to give low-level support to elderly residents, such as emergency alarm cords in their homes. The Council acknowledges that not all providers have been able to develop alternative funding plans, and that some residents will therefore suffer from a reduction in support.
Councillor Andrew Stringer commented:
“This is clearly an example of picking on a soft target for savings. Without this minimal support, many elderly residents will very quickly flounder and struggle to retain their independence. We have a growing elderly population here in Suffolk, and it does not make sense to remove even the most minimal levels of support.”
Despite increasing council tax by 4.99% next year, Suffolk County Council will still be facing a budget gap and is proposing cuts of £23.9m. The majority of this will come from the Adult and Community Services budget, with an £11m cut achieved through “mitigation of care purchasing demand increases” and a £1m cut to the Sheltered Housing Grant. Other damaging cuts agreed by the Cabinet today include reductions in funding to Citizens Advice and reduced subsidies for rural passenger transport, both of which will impact .
The final budget proposals, as agreed by the Cabinet today, will be debated by all councillors at a Council meeting on 8 February.
- Full details of the cuts to adult care can be found in Appendix C, Annex D, paragraphs 1-12 of the 2018-19 Revenue Budget – available at https://committeeminutes.suffolk.gov.uk/DocSetPage.aspx?MeetingTitle=(23-01-2018),%20The%20Cabinet