Social Care Bears Brunt Of Trafford Council Cuts

TRAFFORD Council has highlighted six priority areas in its latest budget – and the areas it needs to cut back on to achieve them.

Key issues include better roads and pavements, a greener borough, maintaining a high standard of education, quality of care for adults, fighting crime and low council tax.

But social care services are to be cut back to achieve the aims.

 These include:

*reductions of £300,000 to family centres,

*£20,000 over three years to youth services

*£626,000 over three years for home to school transport provision.

* £200,000 cuts to adoption placements,

*£511,000 in foster care fees,

*£50,000 to children’s homes maintenance budgets

*£63,000 in the investment of children with complex needs.

*reductions to community service and adult social care – savings of £135,000

*a changed care model saves £500,000.

*cuts of £190,000 to home care and social enterprise

*staffing cuts in 2007/08 mean savings of £248,000 this year.

*Changes to the eligibility criteria of certain benefits for older people’s services – savings of £120,000

*cuts of £50,000 to community meals.

*savings of £98,000 made after eligibility criteria is altered for claims from the physically disabled

*£100,000 reduction in equipment provision.

*for people with learning disabilities additional Primary Care Trust (PCT) contributions will mean savings of £650,000.

*those with physical disabilities will see a reduction of five per cent in residential or supported housing, leading to a council saving of £65,000.

*for people with learning disabilities the same cuts will lead to a saving of £256,000

*for those with mental health problems £94,000.

As well as a 4.94 per cent rise in council tax there will also be an increase in parking charges across the borough with savings of £55,000 made when Regent Road car park in Altrincham becomes pay and display. A total of £200,000 will be saved on on-street pay and display charges review, £100,000 with an off-street pay and display charges review and £16,000 with extended hours on off-street pay and display.

A further £570,000 will be saved with the employment of transport cost efficiencies across the borough.

At the council budget meeting Labour Cllr Barry Brotherton said: “Again this budget is the usual litany of cuts, so-called service realignments and increased charges that we’ve come to expect from this administration over the past four years.”

“Once more the elderly and vulnerable will have to pay, some up to £15 a week more, for the help they receive from social services. Others will find due to the changes in the qualifying criteria they will now receive much less help or indeed none at all.”

“A lot of money is to be spent on highways. Everyone can see this work, although many understand that much of it is purely cosmetic.

“We will be watching that this money is spent fairly across the whole borough and not disproportionately in Timperley and Altrincham!”

The council has worked with accountants KPMG on an efficiency programme.

Council leader Cllr Susan Williams said: “The claim that there are cuts to services and the quality of services by Cllr Brotherton is misleading. A lot of these savings are providing the same service for less money or providing an enhanced service. The efficiency programme changes the way we provide a service but despite savings we will maintain or enhance services delivered in Trafford.

Talking about investment in highways as a priority Cllr Williams added: “Our highways are an asset and if we don’t invest in them they will deteriorate and we will have costs incurred for slip and trip claims due to bad quality roads.

“There is no evidence to back up disproportionate spending in Timperley and Altrincham and none was given.

“Cllr Brotherton said our Dedicated Schools Grant has had one of the biggest increases in the country but we’re still one of the worst funded. The increase is big but the figure is still low.”

“We’re genuinely operating in very tight circumstances with an efficiency programme to improve frontline services.”