DCC budget cut proposals

Devon County Council announced its proposals for budget cuts to services yesterday, which will be reviewed by a scrutiny committee.

DEVON County Council has announced proposals to cut �54.6 million from its budget in response to cuts in Government support over the next four years.

The proposed cuts will affect the budgets of services including children and young people, highways, buses, as well as environment and economy.

It follows a decision by the Government to cut local council’s budgets by 27 per cent over the next four years.

Devon County Council leader John Hart said: “These proposals for spending cuts have been required of us by the reduction in grant from the coalition government as part of its commitment to reduce our unprecedented national deficit.

“The proposals are now going through the scrutiny process and we will carefully consider any suggestions they make before the budget meetings of the cabinet and full county council in February.

“However, any proposals not to implement particular reductions will need to be accompanied by a plan to save a similar sum from other areas of the council’s spending. We simply have to achieve the overall saving.“

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In the 2011-12 financial year 12.1 per cent or �26 million of support to the county will be cut by the Government.

The overall spending cuts are greater as the county council has to cover additional costs arising from spending pressures such as an ageing population and increased prices for landfill.

As part of the proposals the budget for Children and Young People’s Services will fall by over �14 million and the government’s Early Intervention Grant has been cut by 17 per cent, which will mean a reduction in early years services of nearly �3 million and reduced opening hours at children’s centres.

There will also be reductions in school transport, youth work, information, advice and guidance services and the Learning and Development Partnership as well as catering and cleaning services.

Environment and economy will be reduced by 11 per cent before allowing for Devon to take on the cost of over-60’s concessionary travel from the district councils.

The highways service budget will be reduced by �8 million meaning there will be a reduction in the standards of maintenance for bridges, footpaths and public rights of way.

There will be a reduction in the number of urban grass cuts, a speeding up in the introduction of part-night lighting and reductions in monitoring outages on street lighting.

An extra �2.5 million will be made available to repair potholes and other safety defects on the highways network.

The county will also be reducing it contribution to the safety camera partnership and increasing some fees and charges.

Support for bus services will be reduced by �1.3 million from �7.7 million, which will involve cuts to subsides for less well used leisure services and buses operating to schools, primarily for pupils not entitled to free school transport.

Waste disposal will see a �2.1 million reduction, with the introduction of new charges at recycling centres.

Adult and community services will also face cuts of 4.75 per cent from �215.7 million to �205.4 million.

Despite the cuts there will be an increase in money available for social care for older people with disabilities, children in care and children with special needs.

The direct grant to schools will also be increased and no libraries will be closed.

Measures to cut the budgets for services will be presented to a special scrutiny Committee on Monday, January 24.