Councillors vote for further budget cuts following debate

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Members of Suffolk County Council approved over £38 miilion pounds’ worth of cuts following a budget debate held last Thursday.

In an effort to plug a forecasted £120m budget shortfall over the next three years, the majority of the wide-ranging cuts will mainly affect social care services.

Proposed plans include a review of current arrangements for children’s services.

The council predicts it will become ‘leaner and more focused’ as a result of its measures. This follows existing reductions in staffing levels of around 47% made over the past five years across the council.

Describing the cuts as ‘preposterous’ when the council’s financial reserves keep increasing, leader of the council’s Labour group, Councillor Sandy Martin said: “There was £165 million in the bank at the last count.

“The reserves have gone up and up and up. It’s completely wrong [that the council] are still squirrelling away money.”

“The cuts to social care services the county council are continuing to make are not going to save any money and will make people’s lives more miserable.”

“We need to spend money on prevention otherwise we’ll be paying more in the long term.”

Commenting on the cuts and the potential effect on local services, Conservative councillor and Cabinet Member for Resource Management, Jenny Antill said: “We have developed a range of transformation programmes that should allow us to do more with less over the next three years, and beyond.”

In a further warning, Antill said: “It is not certain that [the council’s plans] will be sufficient to fill the estimated budget shortfall, and in that case some hard choices would need to be made.”

“These are incredibly testing times for local government.”