The Suffolk County Council Budget Debate

Last Wednesday the SCC Scrutiny papers for this Thursday’s all day scrutiny of the SCC Budget proposals were published and in effect they set out the draft proposals as to how this year we are planning to saving £38.6m this year and are the first part of a four year plan that will eventually see £156 million saved. They come on top of the £90m we have saved over the last 3 years not forgetting that we will spend about £1.9b in the same period so it’s not all doom and gloom.

We are having to do this because of the need for central government to reduce the deficit in spending and address the legacy of 13 years of Labour’s Fiscal madness. There is no doubt that tough choices will have to be made but the toughest of them all is our determination to protect hard working people’s money by fulfilling our manifesto pledge made in May of this year not to increase the Council tax for the whole of the 4 year term, which along with the freezes we have been able to drive though for the past 3 years means that by 2017 Conservatives will have frozen its element of Suffolk’s Council tax bills for 7 years, which if you take inflation as being at 3% per annum is an actual cut of 21% over those 7 years, good news for hard pressed families as others put up their bills shamefully. Indeed it is a complete contrast to the last time the Libs and Labour were allowed to run to County Council when in two years they put the Council tax up by 11.9% and then 18.5% the very next years, as long as the good people of Suffolk keep them out of power, dark days never to be allowed to return.

22 separate savings proposals have been worked on, tested and now are to be scrutinised, the largest six being:

  • Annual savings from the new      Energy from Waste plant at Great Blakenham, programmed to open in December      2014. Saving: £8 million.
  • Finding additional savings      from within Adult and Community Services that enable the council to      protect specific budgets that ensure the growing number of people      requiring care are able to access the services they need. Saving £6.4      million
  • The council’s contract with      BT for the provision of ICT, HR, finance and public access closing in May      2014 and bringing the services and staff back in house. A programme of service      transformation and modernisation will follow. Saving: £9 million.
  • Cutting the council’s      contingency budget, budget for major projects and capital financing fund.      Saving: £4 million.
  • Reviewing Supporting People      services (e.g. help for marginalised adults, young people, gypsies and      travellers and sheltered accommodation to identity areas where savings      will have the least impact. Saving: £2 million.
  • A review of Children’s      Centre provision, looking at how we currently utilise our buildings to      deliver services. Saving: £1.5 million.

I am looking forward to Thursday’s meeting and it is absolutely right that the scrutiny committee looks into the detail of the proposed budget savings. There is a great deal of pressure on SCC to deliver significant savings and every department has been working hard to ensure that we can make these savings whilst trying to protect our much valued front line services.

I think the hardest thing to get across is that these proposals are just that, proposals and that over the next few weeks we will be listening to as many people are we can to hear their thoughts about how we protect front line services, we want to make sure that the savings being made are in the best interests of local people and listening is how we will do this, No decisions are yet taken.

As a part of the listening this week I shall be starting a series of road shows to discuss the proposals with Local Parish Council and other groups.

In addition SCC has already commissioned Ipsos Mori to survey 4000 Suffolk residents on how they think their money should be spent; and SCC is also launching a wider public consultation on-line.

Then in 12 weeks’ time the final decisions on the council’s budget, including what the level of council tax should be, will be taken at a public meeting of all of Suffolk’s 75 county councillors in February 2014 so between now and then if you have any thoughts do let me know.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal, anything I write is promoted by Lance Stanbury on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Park Farm Cottage, Fordham St. Genevieve, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk IP28 6TS

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