Suffolk: “Where’s the detail?” asks opposition as council looks at budget

SUFFOLK: “Where’s the detail?” That was the question from opposition leaders today as the county published the first details of how it hopes to cut �50million over the next two years.

Deputy LibDem leader David Wood was not impressed as the council published details of efficiency savings it is hoping to make.

It is looking to cut �23 million over two years by improving general efficiency – this includes �15 million by imposing a 1.5per cent cut each year across all departments and �6.5 million in cuts to “back office” services. It also hopes to save �1.5 million by buying services more efficiently.

The next largest saving will come in adult care services.

The council hopes to save a further �15 million over two years by restructuring in social care services – specifically by intervening earlier to help people before their needs become urgent.

Mr Wood said: “My first reaction is that if they can find all these savings in administration and back office, why did we have all the pain with the budget last year?

“In fact, of course, there is very little detail here. Where’s the beef? There are nice words about re-organising adult care – but everyone knows the population is getting older and more people will need support. There is nothing about this here.”

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The details published now are only advisory, to be considered by next week’s county council scrutiny meeting.

The county is still in the middle of the second phase of its public consultation programme which runs until the middle of December.

The first sight of the final details of the budget will be published in mid-January before the county’s cabinet meets at the end of that month.

Council leader Mark Bee said: “I’ve made it very clear that what I want to see from this process is the creation of a budget that saves money on back office and bureaucracy, protects, as much as possible, frontline services and keeps council tax down.

“We’re still at a very early stage and the proposals are very much open for public consultation but I think a good start has been made under extremely difficult circumstances.”

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