Council to consider more proposals towards cutting its budget
Latest proposals to reduce services have been outlined by Derbyshire County Council as it prepares to enter the seventh year of Government austerity cuts to local council budgets
Cabinet members will meet on Tuesday 26 January to propose how the council might make cuts of almost £70m over the next two years including:
Carrying out a review of children's centres which could result in the closure of up to 32.
Reducing funding for community transport services from July 2016 and using the council's reserves for Dial-a-Bus and Active Travel in the short term while proposals for a new 'demand responsive' transport service are consulted on and considered.
Cutting the money available for home to school transport for pupils over 16 with learning difficulties or disabilities, under-fives and some eight to 11 year olds.
Restructuring staffing in the countryside service and looking at alternative ways of running Hayfield and Tapton Lock Visitors Centres.
Reducing the money available for Aiming High short breaks for disabled children and young people with a further proposal to consult on cutting all funding for these breaks from October 2016.
The proposals are on top of £170m of cuts the council has already made to services since 2010 and many of them will be subject to public consultation.
Leader of Derbyshire County Council Councillor Anne Western said:
"Alongside councils up and down the country, we are facing the seventh year of the Government's austerity cuts − and the cuts are now biting very deeply.
"We've done everything we can to keep services running while our budgets are cut back year-on-year. We've put our own house in order by selling off land and buildings, reducing back office costs and significantly cutting the number of senior managers.
"We're not just sitting back and accepting the situation − our top priorities are to examine every penny we spend and find new, cheaper and more innovative ways of doing things.
"And we're looking at new ways of generating income by setting up a publicly-owned development company to keep investment money in Derbyshire, and solar farms to create and sell our own electricity.
"A devolution deal with Government − which we are in the late stage of negotiating − would help us to work with other local councils to do things better and faster together.
"All these things will put us more in control of what Derbyshire people want to see happen in the future and less reliant on Government money, which can only be a good thing.
"Despite all of this, it isn't enough to wipe out the cuts − I'm afraid dealing with cuts on this scale isn't simply about a bit of budget trimming and doing things even more efficiently.
"The harsh reality is that by 2020 the funding we get from Government will be more than a third lower than the amount we would need to provide services to the same level as in 2010 − so it's inevitable that more and more people will see changes to the services they use."
"Cutting services is the last thing anyone involved in local government wants to do − these are quality services that have taken years to build up, run by skilled and dedicated staff and valued and relied upon by local people.
"But we simply have no choice. If we don't balance our books then the Government would take over."
Further plans to balance the books will also be considered at the meeting on 26 January including setting the authority's annual budget for 2016/17 at £483 million and generating £10.6 million to help deal with the shortfall by asking residents to pay an extra 3.99% in council tax.
This year councils with responsibility for providing adult care services were for the first time given Government permission to raise council tax by up to 2% in addition to the maximum 2% ordinarily permitted.
A 3.99% increase in council tax would mean an increase of £34.77 a year − or 67p a week − for a Band B property. Most homes in Derbyshire are Band A or B.
In Derbyshire the extra 2% for adult care would raise £5m a year but this would only partially protect services as the council is facing a £13m adult care cut this year.
The council is considering the 2% charge specifically to help pay for the following adult social care-related services:
Voluntary and community groups that provide the most benefit in helping older and vulnerable people to live safely and well in their own homes without relying on social care services.
Protecting the council's home care service which provides support to people at home so they can stay living independently for as long as possible. This service can help to reduce or prevent hospital admissions and also speed up hospital discharges.
Services that support people with dementia and their carers.
More use of assistive technology and specialist equipment, for example pressure pads and alarms.
Support services for younger adults with mental health issues and learning disabilities to help them live independently, prepare for independent living or a move to supported accommodation and help them learn new skills including support into employment where appropriate.
In November last year the county council asked residents whether they thought council tax should increase to help deal with the cuts. 852 people responded and 46% said council tax should increase by 4% or more.
Councillor Western said:
"We'd prefer not to raise council tax but we feel we have no choice other than to consider it because the funding we get from Government is being rapidly cut and the Government has made it clear that raising council tax is what it expects us to do.
"Whilst the extra 2% for social care services would help to protect some services for elderly and vulnerable people, it would bring in much less than half the amount we would need to stop any cuts to adult social services this year."
Have your say
Local people will get the chance to have their say about many of the proposals and all comments will be taken into account before any decisions are made.
Thousands of residents have already commented on earlier proposals to cut services and their views helped the council to make difficult decisions.
Cabinet will be asked to recommend setting the budget and Five Year Financial Plan to full Council which will meet to consider the reports on 10 February 2016.
Read more in the related documents section below about the budget cuts proposed from 2016 to 2020 and the proposals to review these services:
- Aiming High
- children's centres
- public and community transport
- countryside and rights of way
- school transport for disabled pupils.
Also on our website
The following documents are in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)