Budget cuts will diminish elderly care

PUBLISHED: 12:56 23 February 2006 | UPDATED: 11:33 04 May 2010

COUNTY Tories battled during a heated six-hour debate on Tuesday to push through their budget and slice £10.7 million from spending. They fought off tough opposition from the Liberal Democrats cuts on back office spending to provide money to save servic

COUNTY Tories battled during a heated six-hour debate on Tuesday to push through their budget and slice £10.7 million from spending.

They fought off tough opposition from the Liberal Democrats cuts on 'back office' spending to provide money to save services for the elderly.

The Lib Dems argued that 21 jobs should be lost in the chief executive's office and other departments to free up funds for respite care for the elderly and prevent other cuts.

But the Conservatives stood firm and agreed their budget which will mean a five per cent increase in Council Tax and cuts to services for elderly people.

Savings of more than £1 million to home-care packages and a further £400,000 to respite care for the elderly or disabled have been agreed.

The budget also includes a plan to get elderly people out of residential homes and back into their own homes saving the county more than £700,000 over the next three years.

But whilst they want old people out of care homes they have also agreed £270,000 worth of cuts to the cash provided to build up community-based social care services and a £250,000 saving on the money provided for old people's day care. Public transport was hit with a £253,000 saving.

Liberal Democrats put forward an alternative budget which included £200,000 increased funding for youth services, a further £100,000 for the youth offending team and cash to restore the bus subsidy grants.

Cllr David Jenkins, Liberal Democrat deputy spokesman on community learning and adult social care, said: "The cuts to adult social care focus attention too much on finding savings and not enough on patient care. We would transfer funds to where they're really needed, allowing those delivering these vital services to concentrate on what they do best, helping the elderly.

"Where improvements can be made in delivery effectiveness they are to be welcomed but the emphasis must be patient-care not cutting costs.

"We must spend less on back room services at the council and luxuries such as a car for the chairman and move the money to services that the people of Cambridgeshire can actually use."

The council tax increase will mean an extra 81 pence a week to an average Band D home and an annual charge of £888.12p.

Cambridgeshire County Council leader, Cllr Keith Walters, said: "Whilst the five per cent increase was higher than I would have liked, going below this would have done untold damage to many of the council's services that people depend on daily.

"We have only been able to keep the council tax increase down to five per cent by our continuing programme of reducing back office costs and overheads. There will unfortunately be cuts to many services and we will be working hard to minimise the impact these will have."

n Cambridgeshire Police Authority agreed a 4.98 per cent increase in the policing element of the Council Tax - equating to 13 pence per week extra for the average property.

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