Rethink ordered on County Hall’s budget savings

editorial image

POLITICIANS who have scrutinised proposed budget cuts being made by Bucks County Council have ordered County Hall chiefs to reconsider a range of cost-saving plans.

The recommendations were made following a detailed examination of Buckinghamshire County Council’s 2012/13 to 2014/15 budgets proposals.

Each cabinet member attended the scrutiny meetings to answer questions on their budgets, and the effects of those proposals on service delivery.

The main priority of the scrutiny group was to assess if the county is making the right choices on the way it spends its money to effectively deliver its priority services to meet the needs of Bucks residents.

The recommendations were presented by the chairman of the budget scrutiny task and finish group – and former county council leader – David Shakespeare.

Key areas of recommendation were:

l Cabinet should reconsider the following proposed service reductions:

> Health and wellbeing.

>Meals on Wheels service charging increases.

> Respite services.

> Education and skills.

> Educational psychology service.

> Preventative services.

> Reductions in social care training/charging.

> Carer’s payment.

l The group also recommends that cabinet considers increased investment in the ‘independent domestic violence advocates’ in light of the ‘excellent’ work they do across the county in supporting those most in need.

l Cabinet should ensure that the likely ‘equalities impact’ is fully understood of any service reductions, and this means that an impact assessment should be fully completed before service reductions are proposed.

Recommendations will now go to Buckinghamshire County Council’s cabinet for its response on Monday, February 6.

Following this, the draft budget will go forward to a full county council meeting for its approval of the final budget.

Scrutiny budget task and finish group chairman, Councillor David Shakespeare, said: “This in depth review and detailed report has highlighted a huge number of important issues – particularly the fact that the priorities and needs of our residents should be reflected at a much earlier stage in the budget-setting process.

“I hope that cabinet members will take this report seriously and accept the recommendations.”