Warning that social care will suffer ahead of council tax setting by Suffolk County Council

Suffolk County Council's Labour leader Sandy Martin
Suffolk County Council's Labour leader Sandy Martin

A warning that the proposed county council budget will erode social care for the elderly and vulnerable has come from opposition benches.

The county labour group has called for £10.72m to be re-instated including support for district council free brown bin collections and rural transport.

Suffolk County Council will aim tomorrow to make £34.4m in savings while maintaining its general council tax precept.

But it will be levying a two per cent charge to provide £5.4m in social care funds.

This means that a Band D taxpayer would pay £1,149.03 yearly as part of their county council tax charge. This would include a £22,50 adult social care levy and equates to a 43p per week increase.

Levels of Government grant are dwindling year on year and while the Government announced this week a further £6.4m in funding for Suffolk County Council over the next two years concerns have been raised at the impact of savings needed.

Labour leader Sandy Martin said: “People need to know that if their elderly relatives are going into residential care or receiving care at home then this is going to be sufficient and up to scratch.

“Bury needs its additional fire engine and crew. The experience of the fire in Sudbury should be enough to confirm this.”

Cllr Martin said that the increase in adult social care funding would not be enough to both safeguard services and pay staff wages up to the higher living wage coming in. “It’s wrong that people who work in social care don’t get a decent wage for a decent day’s work. This is not going to safeguard social care.”

Suffolk is looking at a total of saving of £7.6m over the next two years and further reductuions in staffing. So far its workforce, excluding schools, has been slashed from 10,456 to 5,507 between April 2010 and December 2015.

It will be using £5.2m from its corporate contingency reserve to balance the budget.

Capital spending for 2016/17 includes £54.4m on the final phase of school re-organisation in Bury plus further investment in schools and £28.5m invested into roads.

Cllr Mark Erera-Guyer, leader of Suffolk Greens and Independents, said that that people wanted costs such as council tax kept down and consequently there were less services. However Suffolk was in a better place than other local authority areas.“At the end of the day a lot of work has been done by county to reduce costs and that has had some benefit. We have cut to the bone and people have got used to that.”