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‘No easy options left’: Suffolk council proposes cutting jobs and services to save £11m in 2019

Suffolk County Council is set to cut service spending and jobs as part of an £11.2m savings package in its proposed budget for 2019-20.

The proposals will be examined by the council’s scrutiny committee next week, but if accepted, the plans would see 2.99% rise in council tax next year, with a further 1% rise for social care and a further 1.99% rise for the two years from 2020.

Spending would also be slashed across the board – cuts described by the council as “tough decisions.” Some of these include:

  • No roadside cleaning, with only essential maintenance of road marking;
  • A halt to funding of youth support service and Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme;
  • Taking all bus timetables online rather than roadside, with reduced spending on rural bus services;
  • Reduction in winter road gritting;
  • Removal of the Citizens Advice Bureau grant;
  • Reduction in provisions for hostel beds and housing support for people in their own tenancies.

The council has already made savings of £260m since 2011, and is aiming to save a further £25m in 2019-20 as it faces continued reductions in central government grants and other incomes.

“We have some really tough calls to make if we are to balance the budget in the next financial year and in years beyond. There are no easy options left,” said Cllr Richard Smith, cabinet member for finance and assets.

“Council tax income, including the social are precept, accounts for around 62% of the £500m spent by Suffolk County Council each year in providing services for our residents. Now, £500m is still a very large sum of money, but it’s important to recognise that almost two-thirds of our budget is used to support those who are most vulnerable.

“We have to fund and provide these important care and safeguarding services by law, and they continue to be our highest priorities, as difficult as it is to find the funding to deliver them to a good standard.”

Last month, a children’s home run by the council was found to have “serious and widespread failures,” meaning vulnerable children were not being properly protected.

Cllr Smith warned back in September: “I think most people have some awareness that local councils are facing enormous financial challenges, but it’s figures like these [a forecasted £9m overspend] that bring the scale of the issue into sharp focus.”

Top image: Peter Sterling


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