Charity bosses have hit out at Suffolk’s ‘raw funding deal’ and voiced concerns for the vulnerable after councils revealed they are braced for £62.7 million in cuts.
The county’s eight authorities expect cuts of up to 49 per cent in government funding from 2014-16 with Suffolk County Council taking the biggest hit of £50 million.
Council leaders have vowed to build on existing collaborations to protect services.
However, charities have voiced concerns as to how they will cope if they expected to pick up the slack and the demand on their services increases.
Jacqui Martin, chief executive of Suffolk Family Carers, welcomed the pledge from county council leader Mark Bee to minimise the effects on frontline services.
She said: “Our concern is that we’ve already seen an increase in referrals and telephone calls. Therefore we have to have really good discussions on how voluntary and community sectors will cope with that expectation of taking on more.
“The charity sector has always been known to be flexible and responsive. However, due to the financial climate there isn’t so much money around for charities.”
Mrs Martin hit out at the ‘raw deal’ Suffolk receives in terms of Government funding.
She said: “They think Suffolk is a green, leafy and wealthy county. They don’t seem to acknowledge that we do in Suffolk have high levels of deprivation. Suffolk gets one of the lowest payments from the Government to deliver services.”
Amanda Bloomfield, chief executive of Gatehouse, in Bury St Edmunds, said: “Any further cuts or any changes in benefits would of course have a huge impact on those families or people in need that are already struggling in the financial climate.
“Year on year we see an increase in people using our services and we expect that to continue over the next five years. Gatehouse has always strived to meet that need and continue to support those people that we can.”
Cllr Bee said: “It’s important we do not underestimate the scale of the financial challenge facing local government in the next two years.
“Local government really needs to lead by example and find ways of working together to make the savings that are needed.”