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Council spending goes to recession fund

PUBLISHED: 10:15 02 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:31 11 May 2010

MORE than £1m in council spending has been diverted to boost Suffolk's recession fund - but opposition county councillors have questioned how much of it was a genuine saving.

MORE than £1m in council spending has been diverted to boost Suffolk's recession fund - but opposition county councillors have questioned how much of it was a genuine saving.

Chief executive Andrea Hill set up the fund with an “ambitious” target to raise £2m in six weeks to help small businesses and families struggling with the recession.

She asked staff to consider whether meetings or projects were really necessary, hoping to raise £50,000 a day.

Among the savings diverted to the fund was £100,000 after a better process was found to deal with bed blocking in hospitals and £100,000 in efficiency savings in public protection.

Some departmental heads have can-celled staff journeys to other cities and decided not to attend conferen-ces, saving on travel and subsistence.

However, Liberal Democrat leader Kathy Pollard called the recession pot “a great big publicity stunt which has undermined the confidence of staff in the council's administration”.

“Most of the money which the chief executive claims as savings actually comes under the heading of what I call 'business as usual' - it would have been saved anyway,” she said.

Council leader Jeremy Pembroke defended the fund, saying: “These are all great examples of small actions that together can make a big positive difference. In times like these, people rightly look to the council for help. Making these savings will not impact on frontline services now, but will help us quickly respond to problems faced by business, communities and families during the recession.”

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