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£5 Million Extra Cuts Spark Poverty Warning

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3:16pm 18th March 2013
(Updated 3:16pm 18th March 2013)

There is a warning Cornwall is facing a poverty crisis as another £5 million of cuts loom.

Officials have been looking at how savings will be made across the board, from schools and libraries to roadworks and day centres.

They warn services will suffer and jobs will be lost.

It comes after councillors voted not to put up our council tax this year meaning cuts have to made elsewhere.

Reverend Mike Firbank works with some of the poorest families in Camborne and Redruth.

He said: "The impact, it's the pebble in the water, and the ripples just keep on moving. Increasingly, we're seeing working families coming to us and families who've just been made redundant. coming to us in floods of tears, never having had to ask for help before in their lives.

"They all thought, quite rightly, that their jobs were secure and they would continue serving the community in the wonderful way they do. And suddenly, a shock to all of us, we've got to find another £4.7 million or nearly five million to cut from the budget, again."

Meantime, a senior official has warned it is not fair to expect Cornwall's children to pay the price for council cuts.

A report to Cabinet members last week recommended stripping £906,000 out of the Children, Schools and Families budget.

But deputy leader Neil Burden has told Pirate FM he can not do that and keep children safe.

Mr Burden said: "The most important thing is continuing to protect our children, keep them safe. I will be saying I cannot ensure that we will keep within budget because of these huge cuts and the extra million as well, because we don't know what's out there to hit us."

Chris Gibson from Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance, said he would have preferred to have paid more council tax: "It's been three years now of no increases (in council tax) and those increases are lost forever. The Tories and the Lib Dems are trying to make themselves look good just before an election, but this is a price that the ordinary people of Cornwall are going to have to pay."

The council explains where the extra money will be found below:

 

Adult Care and Support (£840,000 savings)

The directorate currently employs agency staff to cover staff sickness and leave in day centres and respite centres where a minimum level of staff is legally required, to cover key posts such as social workers where there have been recruitment delays and to provide flexibility when reshaping services to avoid the cost of redundancies.

The savings will be delivered by reducing the numbers of agency staff. In some cases agency posts will be replaced by recruiting staff onto council contracts at lower rates. Some posts will not be replaced and this may lead to short notice temporary closure of services such as day centres which rely on the flexibility of agency staff to cover sickness.
 

Children, Schools and Families (£906,000 savings)

The directorate uses agency staff particularly within Children’s Social Work and children’s centres. These include social workers, administrators, play workers, crèche assistances, interpreters, case co-ordinators and drivers. There is already a system in place to train and develop social workers locally through the Council’s social work foundation so that as people graduate from that the Council can then use them to replace higher paid agency social workers.

The savings will be delivered by reviewing and reducing agency staff, extending recruitment times for vacancies and potentially making emergency savings through cuts to front line services, including early help and preventative services.

 

Shared Services (£358,000 savings)

This service includes face to face services such as libraries, one stop shops, mobile services and the telephone contact centre.

Face to Face services use agency staff to cover staff sickness, leave and training - without this these services would not be able to remain open at all times due to minimum staffing levels. The contact centre only uses agency staff to cover increased demand due to specific short term events and these are funded by the service (s) concerned, not the contact centre.

£80,000 of the savings requirement will be delivered by enhanced savings through the Strategic Partnership.

Approximately 60% of the remaining £278,000 will be delivered by reducing the operating and opening times of libraries and one stop shops and reducing the opening hours of the contact centre as quickly as possible. Alongside these changes, in order to deliver the full savings requirement, there will also need to be a wider review of libraries, one stop shops and mobile services for consideration by the new Council.

 
Environment (£387,000 savings)

The Directorate deliberately uses agency staff to provide flexibility during re organisation and to deliver important capital projects such as new roads.

The reduction in the number of staff will lead to delays in processing requests and applications for waste and parking services; a reduced ability to influence and deliver major highways and rail improvement schemes, and potential impact on English Heritage funded archaeological projects.

 
Chief Executive’s (£674,000 savings )

Although the directorate does not employ significant numbers of agency staff it has been allocated a savings target of £274,000 to cover the cost of support staff used to develop the Strategic Partnership. It also has to deliver the £400,000 agreed in the budget.

£166,000 of these savings will be delivered by the People and Organisational Development service through a restructuring of two teams, resulting in the loss of four posts and a reduction in the council’s capacity to support organisational change.

The remaining £510,000 will come from the Strategy, Localism and Communications service. This will be met by deleting 14 posts and stopping some specific activities, including the Council presence at the Royal Cornwall Show, the production of the staff magazine and reducing the spending on webcasting.

 
Legal, Democratic and Procurement service (£122,000 savings)

The service uses a small number of agency staff as necessary to provide temporary cover pending permanent appointments and cope with additional workloads and sickness and maternity cover.

The savings will be delivered by deleting four posts across the service and reducing the overtime budget for Elections.

 
Information Services (£488,000 savings)

The service uses agency staff to bring in specific expertise when the authority does not have the skills or knowledge in house and to fill gaps when permanent staff are hard to recruit.

£400,000 of the savings will be delivered through enhanced savings through the Strategic Partnership, with the remaining savings coming from the renegotiation of contracts.

 
Finance (£320,000 savings)

While the service has used a number of agency and interim staff over the past few months while carrying out a comprehensive redesign of the service to deliver £650,000 savings and to support the implementation of the Strategic partnership and ERP projects, these projects are now at an end, with the majority of these agency staff due to leave the authority by the end of April. This means that the savings will have to be made by reducing the number of permanent staff by around 12 posts.

As the service has a number of statutory duties, including budgetary and financial control and the financial closure of accounts the savings cannot be made in these areas. This means the cuts will have to be made in Financial Strategy and Business Partnership team, which provides financial advice to directorates for major service change, and in Internal Audit and Risk Management. This will result in the provision of minimum statutory cover and the loss of preventative work in fraud and audit, which, in the long term, will cost money and may impact on the Council’s value for money assessment made by the External Auditor.

3:16pm 18th March 2013

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