Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Fears That £3.5M Budget Shortfall Could Lead To Cuts

Cllr Kilian Bourke
(LD, Romsey)

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats fear that frontline services will have to be cut to make up a £3.5 million shortfall in the latest Conservative budget.

They expressed their fears after the shortfall was identified just three months into the new financial year.

It comes just a year after a £7 million overspend in adult care had to be bailed out from the county’s reserves.

This year, however, the service will not be able to rely on reserves and Lib Dems fear frontline services such as adult care packages could be cut to make up the shortfall.

The problem comes after a cross-party scrutiny committee expressed its reservations with Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet's budget proposals for Adult Care.  When asked in that meeting what the contingency plans were if the savings were not achieved the Cabinet Member replied that "one approach would be to look to make savings elsewhere in adult services."*

Lib Dem Leader Kilian Bourke said: "It is very concerning that a £3.5m shortfall in the social care budget should be identified just months into the new financial year. This is particularly worrying because unlike last year when the overspend was bailed out from reserves, this year Adult Care cannot call on the general reserve to offset any overspend.

"Unless this shortfall can be addressed the Conservatives will have to balance the books by making cuts to care packages or other services."

Lib Dem spokesman for Health and Adult Care, John Batchelor said: "Adult Social Care has a long history of overspending because the budgets were not right in the first place. The budget was not designed to meet the needs of the service but instead to meet the financial needs of the council.

“This service has a statutory obligation to meet the needs of our community. Let’s have a proper assessment of those needs and a budget to support them."