Suffolk County Council’s Labour group criticises budget and proposes amendment to reverse cuts
The county council’s Labour group has criticised budget proposals and submitted amendments to reverse several cuts.
This follows the council’s decision to use most of its £7.2m allocation, announced by the Government in January, to help plug its reserves gap — meaning the council would use up just over £8.7m in reserves during the next financial year as opposed to the £15.8m initially drafted.
Cllr Sandy Martin, the Labour group’s deputy leader, criticised this decision and proposed an amendment which would reverse several of the proposed cuts.
Although he acknowledged the money would not solve the county’s problems, he also said not spending it would only worsen them in the long term.
He said: “The sticking plaster the government has given the council is not, in any way, going to deal with the long-term problem the council faces.
“But if we don’t spend the money, the likelihood is that the growth in demand will be greater than the amount of money that would’ve been spent.”
Labour’s amendment includes reversing cuts such as the £405,000 to parenting support, £717,000 to children’s centres (referred to as ‘family hubs’ in the report), £1m to housing-related support, and £500,000 to the arts and culture core funding element.
Cllr Martin said keeping the money for a later date would fail to prevent future financial pressures caused by how the Government funds local authorities.
He added: “They’ve been saying they are going to be careful year after year, for 14 years, and it hasn’t gotten them anywhere. It won’t get better unless the government actually funds local authorities properly.
“This amount of money isn’t going to stop them from going bankrupt if the government doesn’t change their attitude.
“If they are going to go bankrupt anyway, they might as well do the right thing now — it’s a recipe for disaster and it’s just silly.”
The amendment is set to be discussed on Thursday alongside the council’s proposals.
Suffolk County Council was approached for comment.