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Hard decisions ahead for North Somerset Council following ‘disgraceful’ budget

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 December 2017

The council is starting to set its budget.

The council is starting to set its budget.

Archant

Funding cuts proposed for North Somerset Council’s upcoming budget may not be ‘morally right’ but hard decisions have to be made, its leader has said.

North Somerset Council's budget. North Somerset Council's budget.

North Somerset Council has started to assess where future cuts may come in its 2018/19 budget, along with a 1.99 per cent council tax rise, and a three per cent adult social care levy.

Despite proposed slashes to the children’s services and adult social care budgets, the authority still needs to work out how it can save another £1million out of a total £10million.

Adult social care and children’s services are the most costly to the council, often ending up over-budget.

Children’s centres are likely to lose more than half their funding in the next two years, and money available for looked-after children placements could fall by £50,000.

Council leader Nigel Ashton conceded the difficult choices the council is going to make may not be ‘morally right’.

MORE: How might next year’s budget affect you?

He added: “We cannot talk about ‘morally right’ because we are going to have to do a lot of things we are not going to want to do.

“It is absolutely disgraceful there was not one mention of local government in the budget.

“There was £2.8billion to the NHS but nothing to local government, yet we are supposed to be doing preventative services to stop people using the NHS.

“Because of the rise in care costs, we are only taking funding out of all the other services. It is not a happy position to be in.”

The Government will provide additional funding for adult social care in 2018/19, and the council is likely to introduce a three per cent council tax levy which will be ring-fenced for care.

Despite this, preventative services to help people stay in their homes may still be cut, such as a contract which offers housing support to vulnerable people.

The council’s chief finance officer, Malcolm Coe, admits this could lead to even greater costs down the line.

Cllr Denise Hunt warned cuts could make services unsafe.

Cllr Ashton added that the low amount of money the authority gets from council tax and its lack of assets means it struggles to have enough income.

Cllr Ashton and Mr Coe will met the Government minister responsible for councils yesterday (Wednesday) but were not expecting to come away with any more money as a result.

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