More budget cuts announced to help meet service demand
Nottinghamshire County Council has announced budget proposals designed to save £30m in a bid to cut £77m from its spend by 2017-18 - which could lead to hundreds of job losses at County Hall.
Of all the Labour-run council’s annual budget, which currently stands at £1.2bn, almost a quarter is spent on adult social care and health.
And it is this area which will see the biggest budget cut if the plans are implemented in February next near.
The biggest saving of £4,346m would come from the introduction of extra care housing - an extension to traditional supported housing where older people with additional care needs can living independently as possible with on-site care staff 24 hours a day.
l A saving of £1,567 will come from the use of ‘assistive technology’ designed to help vulnerable people such as the disabled and elderly remain in their own homes - avoiding the need for residential care and high-cost home care packages.
l A saving of £1m will come from plans to combine the resources of the Early Help team and Children’s Social Care Family Support team and it is hoped that effective earlier intervention for families will keep children from going into social care later in life.
l Another saving of £1.5m would see the county’s highway services delivered by a subsidiary company owned by the authority.
A spokesman confirmed that if all plans were implemented they could result in the loss of 490 county council posts over the next two years.
Coun leader Alan Rhodes said: “Being forced to take a further £77m from services that have already endured several years of government funding cuts is incredibly tough, especially at a time when demand for them, especially from the elderly and vulnerable children, is greater than it has ever been.
“Instead of starting from the position of ‘how can we cut services?’, Our starting point has been ‘how could things be done differently?’
“Through the greater use of technology and developing other creative, innovative options for the way we deliver services in the future, we have been able to reduce the impact of government austerity and avoid more severe cuts to frontline services.
“Even so, the scale of the sustained financial pressures on the council means that service reductions are unavoidable, which I deeply regret.”
With central Government still to declare its policy on Council Tax for 2015-16, the council admits it is considering an increase.
Said Coun Rhodes: “Our preference would always be for a Council Tax freeze, but we cannot allow that to be at the expense of providing essential services to vulnerable people.
“A 1.99 per cent increase in Council Tax for instance would raise £16.5m over the next three years, which would help to protect services at a cost to the average taxpayer in Nottinghamshire of just 39p a week per year.”
The council’s policy committee will meet on 12th November to discuss the proposals and, subject to their agreement, a public consultation on the options for change will start on 13th November and run until 16th January next year.
People will be able to give their views at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/budget or join the debate at Facebook/Nottinghamshire and Twitter @nottscc using the hashtag #NottsBudget.
If folk are not online, a consultation booklet will be available to pick up and complete from any Nottinghamshire County Council library or county contact point from a date to be confirmed in later this month.