Opposition warning over Suffolk budget cuts

CUTS to the county council's budget over the next year could hit the most vulnerable members of society, according to the official opposition at Endeavour House.

Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Andrew Cann warned that the proposed budget cuts of �26million will hit departments dealing with the most vulnerable disproportionately.

He said the cuts to adult services and children's services amounted to 6.5pc and 4.9pc, while cuts to economic services and to public protection came to 2pc and 1.5pc.

Mr Cann said: 'It looks as if the county council is putting potholes before people.

'The Tories say they are targeting their cuts at the back office in order to save frontline services. What this budget shows is the reverse.'

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He was also concerned that the amount the council would be paying to Customer Service Direct (CSD) next year would increase rather than fall as had been proposed.

'The council said it would be paying �1.5m less – but according to the budget the sum being paid is going up from �31.5m to �32.5m,' he said.

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CSD is 80pc owned by BT, and the value of the contract has increased significantly over recent years.

A spokesman for the county said: 'The annual cost of the CSD contract has reduced by over �2m since 2010/11 and will reduce further in 2013/14.

'There will be a temporary cost increase next year but this is because some of the significant savings we have negotiated with BT for this year were one-off and inflation has to be factored in.

'It is not the case that the county council is failing to manage the CSD contract. We are continuing to deliver savings wherever possible.'

And the council's portfolio- holder with responsibility for adult and community services, Colin Noble, said it was not true that vulnerable people were being targeted.

He said: 'Andrew Cann knows very well that the savings in adult and children's services are being made possible because we're investing more in preventing problems like falls, poor health and family breakdowns from occurring in the first place.'

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