Telford & Wrekin Council will shut vast majority of its libraries with massive cuts
Telford & Wrekin Council has published its budget proposals as it looks to make £30 million of service cuts
There are some very difficult times ahead with no choice but to cut services as Government grant to the Council continues to be cut, next year by another 20%.This is against a background of the Council already making £80 million worth of cuts since 2010, claims Telford and Wrekin Council.
The Council claims that cutting a further £30 million will have consequences and hit many services the community relies on, with a number of proposals due to come into force by April 2017 including the Council stopping running community centres, a number of children’s centres and the vast majority of its its libraries.
Over the next year the Council will talk to a range of organisations in the borough to seek new ways that community groups or partners could run these services.
Councillor Lee Carter, Cabinet member for Finance and Service Delivery, said: “Local people need to understand that George Osborne and the Government have decided that the money we pay in income tax will no longer be used in part to fundlocal services as in the past.
“Governmentgrant to councils is local people’s taxes and the Government have now chosen different priorities for this, which means we now have some extremely difficult decisions to make locally about services that we know the community would want to see continuing.
”Wedo not want to make cuts but have no option. However, we will seek to do this in as fair, open and compassionate a way as possible and will make decisions only after involving our residents.
“We will be talking with many partner and community organisations to together explore alternative ways to continue services that by April 2017, we will no longer be able to afford to provide. If we cannot do this, these services will unfortunately have to end.
“Our proposals prioritise as far as possible services for vulnerable adults and children and promote our borough as a good place to be, attracting more new jobs and investment here.
“The budget would next year see additional money for services for vulnerable children and adults and continue protecting as far as possible these areas from the worst of the cuts.For example, adult social care accounts for 30% of the Council’s budget but over the next year two years, but the net cut to its budget is just 2%.”
Whilthe budget has almost 200 separate proposals, its main focus is on 32 serviceswith the most significant impact on the public.
The Council is approaching community organisations to explore how a number of these services could continue from April 2017, run in a new way by different organisations and not the council. The proposals include:
Less Council run children’s centres and most libraries in the Borough being shut down.
The Council claims it will consult on three possible council tax options. The first is to “freeze”council tax and implement the 2% “precept” the Government has assumed Telford& Wrekin will put into its Council Taxto raise extra funds ring fenced for adult social care services. Thiswill raise an extra £1.1 million a year and lessen the level of cuts to adultsocial care, but not enough to stop some cuts for this service over the nexttwo years. This will cost a Band B household an extra 34p a week.
The Councilwill also ask residents if it should raise council tax to help lessen cuts to key services by an additional 1.2% or 1.9% (over and above the 2% Government assumed adult services precept) or “freeze” it. This is because councils will no longer receive from Government a grant if they freeze council tax which had been worth 1.2% or £600,000 for Telford & Wrekin.
Councillor Carter adds: “A sign of the scale of challenge we face is that, even if after“ring fencing” the Government’s assumed 2% precept for adult social care, wemust still make changes to the way that adult services are delivered whileensuring we always meet our statutory duties for eligible people’s assessed needs.
“The most challenging savings do not happen until 2017 to allow as much time as possible to explore possible alternatives and consult with service users.
“It’s vital as many people will have their say on our proposed cuts and give their views on whether we should increase council tax further when our survey launches on 8 January.”
A budget consultation survey in which people can give their views on proposal http://www.telford.gov.uk/budget and council tax will be available at www.telford.gov.uk/budget from 8 January with more informationabout the Council budget plans and in key council locations from 8 January until 7 February.
Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard has responded to the proposals. He said: “The Borough Council need to spend its very large budget far better than they currently do.
“There is no excuse for closing libraries and local community services.
” Rather than blame the government they should be getting better value money for each pound of taxpayers’ money they spend.”