Liberal Democrat Councillors on Cornwall Council are dismayed that the Tory led administration passed a budget today (Tuesday 15th February) that will see a 40% cut to the supporting people budget.
Lib Dem Councillor Derris Watson said, “These cuts will inevitably effect the poorest and most vulnerable people in Cornwall especially the young and elderly.”
“When I joined the overnight ‘rough sleep’ demonstration at County Hall last weekend, I heard at first hand the hardship homeless people endure on a daily basis.” These concerns were echoed by the many service providers that joined the rough sleep on the steps of County Hall who were worried they would not be able to maintain their current levels of service with these depths of cuts.”
These cuts are despite Eric Pickles MP and local government Minister stating that for every £1 spent on supporting people there will be a knock on effect of saving £5-6 further down the line picking up the social cost of these cuts.
Despite this view, the Tory led administration, aided and abetted by the Independent group, (with 1 notable exception) arrogantly ignored this common sense approach in their unseemly rush to drive through these unfair and damaging cuts.
Lib Dem group leader Doris Ansari said, “At the emergency budget debate before Christmas the Lib Dem group made several amendments that would have protected this budget, which the Tory led administration ignored.” “We warned at the time that these headline budgets didn’t contain enough detail of exactly where the axe would fall.”
“Councillor Derris Watson proposed today that the whole issue of the supporting people budget be deferred and revisited by Cabinet.” “This would allow a full scrutiny of the details line by line to identify alternative areas for efficiencies without the need to cut front line services.” “This sensible proposal fell on deaf ears.”
Councillor Mario Fonk said, “How can it be right that this Tory led administration can justify a £multi million refurbishment of County Hall when so drastically cutting funding for the most vulnerable people in Cornwall?”
Councillor Colin Riches said, “The reality of these cuts in front line services is there are elderly house bound residents in my Division of Saltash who will only get 2 visits per week instead of the 5 days they currently receive and rely upon.” “They are frantic with worry and this can only lead to a deterioration in their health, adding to their sense of isolation.”
Councillor Anne Kerridge said, “Whitehall have not cut Cornwall’s budget for supporting people so why is this Tory led administration so hell bent on making these deep, damaging cuts when we have £127m in reserves?” “ These reserves are designed for a rainy day – that rainy day is here.”
Notes: The budget was carried by 60 votes to 40 with 1 abstention. One Tory and one Independent Councillor voted against the budget.