Labour has urged the Conservatives to think again on the way it carries out £14million of cuts.
A funding gap has emerged due to a reduction in the money the NHS was expected to hand over to Staffordshire County Council.
As a result a number of services are now facing cutbacks, including:
But the leader of the Labour opposition group at the county council says the cuts will hit the most vulnerable members of the community.
Cllr Sue Woodward added that the problems were caused by the Tory government’s failure to deliver on a pledge to fully fund the Better Care Fund (BCF) which aims to bring together the NHS and councils to target resources on community care.
“The Conservative Cabinet at Staffordshire County Council has decided to target the most vulnerable people in Staffordshire to bear these cuts rather than spread the pain across the whole council budget,” she said.
“In April the county council increased council tax by nearly 4% including a 2% social care levy to meet the growing needs of Staffordshire’s ageing population. But now as a result of Government broken promises, the most needy will suffer. So we have the worst of all worlds – a hefty increase in Council Tax with cuts to vital services.”
The deputy leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Charlotte Atkins, said the county council should not be pushing ahead with cuts without understanding how they will hit vulnerable members of society.
She said: “These cuts will include scrapping the Crisis Support Scheme, an emergency fund to supply food, fuel and white goods to those in crisis, taking support away from vulnerable young people with mental health problems, cutting rehabilitation services designed to help people regain independence after illness and may risk the closure of local Citizen Advice Bureaux which advise those faced with debt and benefit problems.
“What is most shocking is that the council admits it cannot accurately predict the impact of these cuts. Yet they plan they will go ahead anyway.”
But Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing, Cllr Alan White, said the funding gap meant action needed to be taken.
“As a county council we have already invested an extra £20 million in care and fully support the principles of the Better Care Fund, which aims to encourage local councils and clinical commissioning groups to shift more funding into community care,” he said. “However, a significant reduction in the expected NHS contribution to the plan has left us with a £15m shortfall in what is needed to fund social care for the most vulnerable people in our communities. This has now been escalated to Government.
“To help bridge this gap we have already put on hold all but absolutely essential spending at the council. However, with such a significant shortfall we do have to prioritise the funding of care for which we have a statutory responsibility and have to look at reducing the additional contributions we can make to some NHS and welfare areas.
“Money raised from the Government’s agreed council tax rise to help meet the growing costs of supporting an ageing population has already been allocated as part of the council’s budget setting.
“These extra funds will be spent only on caring for Staffordshire residents and despite the increase in council tax, Staffordshire still has one of the lowest county council taxes in the country.”