Millions of pounds in savings to be made from cuts to services

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Funding cuts will hit adult social care, libraries and children’s centres as Suffolk County Council works to save £156 million over four years.

In this year’s budget, savings amounting to £38.6 million have been laid out across a range of service areas.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance and property, Cllr Colin Noble, said: “It’s something we cannot get away from.

“We are legally obliged to deliver a balanced budget – it’s about where do we prioritise the spending of money and how do we shape services.”

The council has made savings of £90 million since 2010 and is seeking to save£156 million more over the next four years.

The adult care budget has been cut by £3.3 million for 2014-15. Some £2 million of this will be taken from the supporting people budget which includes services aimed the elderly, young families, people affected by domestic abuse and travellers.

Cllr Noble said the council had spoken extensively with service providers, users and the voluntary sector to prioritise the services considered most valuable and pursue best practice to make savings.

A £6.4 million saving is to be made from care purchasing during the next financial year.

It is suggested this is made through measures including early intervention, telephone care and changing charging criteria to increase levels of income.

Martyn Green, chief executive of Age UK Suffolk, said: “It is important for these savings not to affect people’s ability to be well cared for. Any impact on care purchasing must come from efficiencies and improvements in helping older vulnerable people to remain active and independent in their own homes for longer and not at a time when most needed.”

A saving of £500,000 from early years and child care is intended alongside £1.5 million from the children’s centres budget.

Nicola Miller, editor of Mumsnet Suffolk, said: “Mumsnet Suffolk sees our local children’s centres as playing a vital role in the provision of support, contact, information and education to families with young children, especially in rural, isolated regions.”

The largest saving – £9 million – will come from ending a contract with BT and bringing customer services in house.

Further cuts will affect libraries, schools, adult learning and staffing levels. While £8.3 million has been saved through retendering a park and ride contract and an energy from waste plant.

Suffolk Libraries has said savings will be made by cutting back office running costs and a £70,000 reduction in its stock fund. It said despite cuts it would retain a healthy book stock spend per head of population.

The budget will go before Suffolk County Council’s cabinet on January 28.