Council leaders delay cut in children’s social care

Protesters stand outside Northampton's County Hall to highlight their anger at council cuts.
Protesters stand outside Northampton's County Hall to highlight their anger at council cuts.

A proposed cut in funding to the social care of Northamptonshire children has been taken out of the next budget.

Councillor Bill Parker, the Northamptonshire County Council member for finance, made the announcement during today’s County Hall budget meeting.

He said: “The proposal was to reduce the budget by £2.7 million.

“However, the scrutiny committee has recommended this is not the right time to do this.

“As a result I have decided to remove this proposal from the 2013/2014 budget.”

Councillor Parker said an extra £1 million would also be found from sources including general reserves for children’s social care.

Opposition councillors were broadly supportive of the move although some did point out that planned cut may be reinstated in a year’s time.

The meeting will resume after a lunch break but separate Labour and Lib Dem budgets, which sought to switch streetlights back on among other measures, have been voted down by the majority Conservative administration.

The Conservatives repeated their argument that the local authority had to fill a £5.9m budget gap.

Meanwhile, a protest about the level of cuts outside County Hall this morning saw union representatives speak about changes needed to levels of council tax to protect services.

Steve Bennett of Unison said: “The Conservative administration have made a conscious effort since they were elected in 2005 to keep council tax at the same level.

“You can have low council tax but that just means you get a low level of services. It’s a decision that has decimated our community.”

Members of the public also spoke during the meeting about cuts, with the loss of £25,000 of funding to the Afro-Caribbean Elderly group a hot topic.

However, cabinet member Councillor Heather Smith was adamant her party was making the right decision.

She said: “Because their numbers have been declining it is costing twice as much as similar organisations to support.

“It is absolutely right that we apply pressure on them to make savings.

“They made a profit last year so it’s not unreasonable to ask them to make savings this year.”