Council cuts: ‘We have no other choice’

County Hall, Matlock.
County Hall, Matlock.

Derbyshire County Council’s ruling Labour group has voted to press ahead with cuts to services in a bid to save a massive £157 million by 2018.

On Tuesday the council also proposed a 1.99 per cent council tax increase to generate £5 million to help deal with the shortfall in the face of “unprecedented budget pressures”.

A public consultation on the cuts will be launched from January 28 and run for 12 weeks.

The authority also says it will not hold a referendum on the cuts because the projected cost of £1 million was not deemed “to be a good use of resources”.

County council leader Councillor Anne Western, said: “We’re facing massive financial pressures like never before and that means we’ve got some difficult decisions to make.

“We don’t want to cut any services but we have no choice.”

The council says reductions in Government grants, increased inflation and greater demands on areas of the budget for adult social care and vulnerable children mean the authority must save £36.7million in 2014-15 alone as well as dealing with increasing financial pressures.

These include the £5.4 million cost of looking after an ageing population and increases in the number of disabled adults and people with the early onset of dementia.

In line with many other authorities, Derbyshire County Council is proposing to change who qualifies for council care and home help by raising the eligibility threshold to ‘substantial’.

This would mean that only people who have been assessed as having substantial needs or above would be eligible to receive ongoing support from the council in the future. The proposals could result in 2,700 people losing their social care from the council while 7,000 more look set to face an increase in the amount they have to pay for it.

Cllr Clare Neill, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “I have some very difficult decisions to make over the next few months.

“We’re facing massive budget pressures and this will have a huge impact on adult care services in the future.”