No compassion in cuts

By Ian Dipple Friday 14 February 2014 Updated: 14/02 09:59

CONSERVATIVE councillors have been accused of lacking compassion after approving millions of pounds of budget cuts and a rise in council tax.

Labour group leader Peter McDonald attacked the controlling Tory group on Worcestershire County Council saying their budget proposals for 2014/15 would hurt the vulnerable, elderly, children and struggling families.

“This budget treats with hostility hard pressed families around the county struggling to make ends meet, having to face a cost of living crisis and all this council can do is pile on more misery by increasing council tax by two per cent while at the same time reducing services,” he said.

“It seems to me there is no compassion when it comes to people and not an ounce of social conscience in the controlling group.”

At a full council meeting yesterday (Thursday) councillors approved £24.9million worth of cuts, with among the most controversial reductions in supporting people funding which could see the loss of call alarms for the elderly, support for the re-integration of offenders, domestic violence victims and young homeless people. The authority’s portion of the council tax bill has also been increased by 1.94 per cent.

But council leader Adrian Hardman rejected Labour’s attacks saying the budget did support the most vulnerable.

He said as a result of the thousands of comments received in response to their plans to cut supporting people money, £3million of transitional funding had been found for two years to give those organisations affected time to put plans in place to deliver services in a different way. It is being funded as a result of more money being collected in council tax than expected and the council’s savings.

Some £1.1million will be spent subsidising some bus services instead of axing the subsidy completely, while £4million extra will be spent on looked after children. There will be another £3million for adult social care, an extra £500,000 for road maintenance and another £1.5million to prevent highways flooding.

“We are listening to what the people of Worcestershire say, we have been out on the streets talking to people,” he said.

“We are absolutely passionate about quality services but we do believe they can be delivered differently.”

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