The latest round of cuts by the Tory-controlled county council will involve slashing spending on services for the vulnerable – at a time when more and more people are needing help.
At the same time, the Tories are sticking to their policy of not increasing council tax. It’s a policy that has seen the council’s income slide below what is needed to fulfill its responsibilities.
16 Million pounds of spending cuts
16 million pounds is being cut from spending – millions of pounds of it from the budgets for social work and children’s services. Among the cuts are:
• £2.278 million from a “redesign” of health and social care provision for elderly people and others
• £409,000 from scrapping help for most homeless adults
• £1.061 million from the budget of the integrated learning service, which ensures all pupils are educated to a good standard
• £400,000 from cuts and changes to children’s homes
Support for public transport is also being reduced. £508,200 is being cut from bus subsidies including ending support for journeys on Saturdays.
And at a time when citzens’ advice bureaus across Somerset are under increasing strain, £93,000 is to be cut from the support they get over the next three years.
The BBC has reported that overall, a hundred jobs will be lost, £900,000 will be cut from youth and community services and sheltered housing provision will be cut by £500,000.
A theme running through the reports attempting to justify these cuts is that – under the Tories – Somerset wants to do only what it legally has to do. Everything else will be farmed out to other organisations. And then support for them will be cut.
Austerity must end
What the Tories are ignoring are the social effects of their callous policies and the knock-on costs of not supporting people who need help. To take just one example, cutting support for homeless people will have a massive human cost – and it has been estimated it will end up costing taxpayers £1.8 million a year.
Labour says Somerset should be putting people first. The brutal austerity of the Tories must end.